LAKE FOREST – With so many changes to the roster, he could be viewed as one of the “veterans” of the Bears’ defense.
It’s an interesting designation for a player going into his third year with the team, but Jaylon Johnson finds himself in that situation on a defense that will have a healthy amount of new players. That includes two potential starters for the secondary that arrived in the second round of April’s draft: Cornerback Kyler Gordon of Washington and safety Jaquan Brisker
“Excited. Just to have some high-level guys come in and contribute,” said Johnson. “We had a lot of people leave our secondary, so we definitely need some replacements, and I feel like that’s what we did.”
But as Gordon and Brisker enter this season as rookies in the NFL, Johnson feels like he’s having his own fresh start in his third year with the Bears. Remember, the regime that drafted him in the second round in 2020 and coached him that year and in 2021 are now gone, with an entirely new group of people in place at Halas Hall.
“It’s a complete reset,” said Johnson of the 2022 season, which is beginning with voluntary workouts at Halas Hall in May and early June. “Everything I’ve done in the past with the other coaches and the other staff, it really doesn’t mean anything too much. The film’s not going to lie to you, but at the end of the day, they want me to show them what I can do in person.”
Johnson’s film will show a cornerback that’s been able to do more than hold his own on the field in his first two seasons. The cornerback has already made 28 starts in his NFL career with 90 tackles, 24 passes defended, and an interception during the 2021 season.
“Just being myself. I feel like from my rookie year to my second year, I felt like I was more myself my second year, mentally, physically,” said Johnson when asked how he’s grown during his two years in the NFL. “I definitely just would say finding out who I am and really redefining myself each and every day, recommitting to being a better me. Not really worrying about the external factors but just trying to be a better person, and then with that, I’ll be a better player as well.”
All of that has certainly helped his mindset as the will be looked at as one of the leaders of a new-look Bears’ defense in both personnel and scheme.
“I feel as confident as ever,” said Johnson. “I don’t feel like there’s nothing I can’t do.”