Bears notebook: Roschon Johnson just getting started

The rookie running back continues to turn heads and open eyes with his physical style but knows he has a lot of work to do after an encouraging debut in the Bears’ preseason opener. “Definitely a game to build off of,” he said.

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Bears rookie running back Roschon Johnson (30) had a 24-yard run against the Titans in his NFL debut Saturday. He finished with 12 carries for 44 yards.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times, Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Whenever any Bears player is asked about rookie running back Roschon Johnson, the answer is almost always the same.

“He’s physical, man,” tight end Cole Kmet said after Wednesday’s practice against the Colts at the Colts’ training facility. “It was fun. Sometimes I like to just watch other position’s [individual] or one-on-one drills, and I was watching his pass pro stuff and he’ll put his helmet in there. That’s cool to see.”

The Bears have been intrigued by Johnson since they drafted him in the fourth round. They clearly want to see what they’ve got. Johnson had 12 carries for 44 yards in the preseason opener against the Titans on Saturday, including a 24-yard run. It was the most carries for a Bears running back in the preseason opener since 2011, when Kahlil Bell rushed 13 times for 73 yards against the Bills.

But typical of his humble, blue-collar style, he wasn’t that impressed with his own performance.

“Definitely a game to build off of,” Johnson said. “Some things I wish I could have had back. But it’s a starting block, for sure.”

Asked what he wanted to improve on, Johnson basically said everything.

“There were a couple of runs I had that I felt I could have hit smoother,” he said. “A couple of routes that I felt I could have been more sharp on. Special teams, a couple of assignments I could have executed a little better. Really, all across the board.”

Ngakoue ramping up

Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue wasn’t very active in practice against the Colts. But his time will come, defensive coordinator Alan Williams said.

“We had an idea when he came in what we wanted to do with him, so we’re going back and forth to see what he can do,” Williams said.

“We have an idea [what he can do] and how he fits in the system and where we can put him to maximize what he does. But I’m just not going to tell you just yet. You’ve got to wait and see. But I think you’re going to like what you see from him.”

Colts’ Taylor still out

Star running back Jonathan Taylor, who is in a standoff with the Colts over the lack of a contract extension, left the team again Wednesday. In a statement, the Colts said it was excused — that he “returned to Indianapolis to continue his rehab, however he had a personal matter arise.”

Taylor has requested a trade, but owner Jim Irsay said the Colts won’t deal him. He’s on the physically unable to perform list and hasn’t participated in training camp.

DeMarcus Walker returns

Defensive end DeMarcus Walker was back in practice for the first time since Aug. 1. Rookie cornerback Terell Smith also returned to practice.

Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, safety Jaquan Brisker, wide receiver Chase Claypool, running back Trestan Ebner and guard Nate Davis were out Wednesday.

Player to watch

Undrafted rookie linebacker Micah Baskerville, who had two interceptions in a practice last week, had another one Wednesday. Baskerville picked off Colts backup Gardner Minshew in the end zone in the two-minute drill.

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