Bears notebook: Buster Skrine out, Jaylon Johnson questionable for Sunday vs. Vikings
Johnson’s shoulder injury puts rookie rematch with Vikings’ receiver Justin Jefferson on hold. Rookie Kindle Vildor likely next man up if he can’t go. Duke Shelley again will play for Skrine.
Bears slot cornerback Buster Skrine will miss his second consecutive game because of a concussion he suffered against the Lions, and rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson is questionable with a shoulder injury Sunday against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Johnson, whose 15 passes broken up are tied for fourth-most in the NFL, did not practice this week because of the injury he suffered against the Texans. Secondary coach Deshea Townsend will miss the game for personal reasons that are not related to the coronavirus, coach Matt Nagy said Friday.
That could leave the Bears’ secondary vulnerable against Vikings receivers, particularly Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who burned the Bears in a 19-13 victory
Nov. 16 at Soldier Field. Thielen had touchdown catches of 17 and six yards. Jefferson had eight receptions for 135 yards (16.9 average), including a 54-yard play. The rookie from LSU is seventh in the NFL with 1,087 receiving yards (16.6 average).
Second-year cornerback Duke Shelley replaced Skrine against the Texans and acquitted himself well. Rookie Kindle Vildor, who played 14 snaps in place of Johnson last week, likely will start if Johnson can’t play.
“Both those guys show up every single day [and] prepare like starters,” Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “Kindle’s a pit bull. Both those guys are. They’re young, hungry, scrappy, highly competitive football players. They’re twitchy. They can run. They’ve got fast feet. Ball skills. Instinct. They know the game.
“If both have to play a significant amount of time again, they’ll play really hard and compete. There will be a mistake, like all the guys make mistakes. But we don’t worry about that. We just move on to the next play. I’m proud of both those guys.”
Star linebacker Khalil Mack (shoulder) is questionable but expected to play. Safety Deon Bush (foot), tight end Jimmy Graham (hip) and linebacker James Vaughters (knee) are questionable.
The Vikings will be without two starters — tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) and linebacker Eric Hendricks (calf). Rudolph had four receptions for 63 yards in Week 10.
Kmet’s surge buoys Trubisky
Rookie tight end Cole Kmet is a bigger factor in the passing game than he was when he had one catch for eight yards against the Vikings in Week 10. Kmet has nine receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown in the last two games.
“He’s a special player. He has the potential to be really great,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said.
“His love for the game, his energy and his football IQ is what separates him from most young guys. And his size and strength combined with his speed is what is hard to bring down. [Defensive backs] are just not big enough to tackle him. . . . We gotta continue to get the ball in his hands and see what he can do run-after-catch.”