Bears notebook: Kevin Toliver is No. 1 ... for now

The third-year cornerback could be holding the spot for rookie Jaylon Johnson. But with Johnson still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Toliver has an opportunity to convince the coaching staff he deserves the job.

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Bears cornerback Kevin Toliver (22) tackles Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (11) in the season finale last season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

AP Photos

Kevin Toliver looked like the first in line to replace Prince Amukamara when the Bears decided to cut the veteran cornerback after last season. 

Toliver, signed as an undrafted free agent out of LSU in 2018, started against the Cowboys in place of an injured Amukamara in Week 14 last season and split time with him against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings in the final month. He appeared to have passed the audition. 

But then the Bears took Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson in the second round of the draft. 

“Oh, yeah, I was motivated a lot [by that],” said Toliver, who was rated one of the top 10 players in the country coming out of high school in 2015. “I always had a chip on my shoulder since I’ve been here. It’s just a competition thing. I’m not afraid of competition.”

That’s a good thing, because the Bears gave Toliver plenty of it in the offseason. Not only did they draft Johnson as the eventual replacement for Amukamara, but they also signed former CFL cornerback Tre Roberson and former Steelers first-round pick Artie Burns in free agency. In fact, with Johnson recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Burns opened training camp with the first-team defense. When Burns tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the second padded practice Tuesday, Toliver replaced him. 

At this point, it seems like only a matter of time before Johnson is healthy and ready to assume the starting job. Unless Toliver can convince the coaches otherwise. 

Toliver said he tried to improve his game by spending time in the safeties meetings in the offseason. 

“Just learning other positions,” he said. “Learning what everyone else has around me. Learning where my help is at. That just makes the game go slower, so I feel like I have an advantage there.”  

Teachable moment

Mitch Trubisky stepped out of bounds for a sack during a goal-line drill, a mistake a fourth-year quarterback isn’t supposed to make. 

“When you have first-and-goal from the 1 … when you are on a scramble, you have to throw that ball away. He knows that,” coach Matt Nagy said. “We told him that. Those are critical errors that we can’t have. He’s not going to do that again.” 

Quinn ramping up

Outside linebacker Robert Quinn didn’t participate in team drills again Thursday, but he isn’t injured, Nagy said. Like Khalil Mack, Quinn is being eased into full practice participation. 

“Just a complete ramp-up,” Nagy said. “For [Quinn], he’s at a point where we just feel like we want to do that. You’ll start seeing him more and more. We’re really excited for what he’s gonna bring to this defense.” 

Bears add WR Adams

The Bears put Burns on injured reserve and signed former Vikings receiver Rodney Adams. A fifth-round draft pick from South Florida in 2017, he spent his rookie season on the Vikings’ practice squad. The Colts signed him in 2018, but he opted to retire before that season.

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