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Bears Bulletin

Bears DBs Jackson, Johnson back on practice field

Bears safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Jaylon Johnson
Bears safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Jaylon Johnson

The Bears secondary has been bolstered by the return of two veteran starters.

Safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Jaylon Johnson are both practicing this week for the first time this offseason. Jackson has recovered from a foot injury that forced him to miss the final five games last season, while Johnson is back after spending time at home in California.

Jackson was leading NFC free safeties in Pro Bowl voting last November when he suffered a non-contact injury versus the Jets that ended his season. At the time, he topped the Bears with 61 tackles, four interceptions, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

The 2017 fourth-round pick from Alabama participated in individual drills in OTA practices Monday and Tuesday and rejoined team drills Wednesday. 

"Eddie has worked his tail off to get back to where he is," said coach Matt Eberflus. "He's in really good shape for working with the rehab staff, and I want to commend those guys, the training staff, for getting him back—and commend Eddie also for the hard work that he's put in to get to this point."

Eberflus revealed that he's been most impressed with Jackson's work ethic and ability to handle adversity. The veteran safety has overcome multiple obstacles throughout his life, both personally and professionally. 

"He's had that throughout his whole career," Eberflus said. "Coming out of college he had that. He's had that in some different avenues in his life. He's just a strong man. I just commend him for standing on solid ground. He's done a really good job of coming back from that. He looks at adversity as opportunity, and I think that's a great way to look at it. When you see adversity hit, he sees opportunity to show greatness and to get stronger."

Johnson, meanwhile, denied that his absence from the voluntary offseason program prior to this week was related to his contract situation. The 2020 second-round pick from Utah is entering the final year of his rookie deal. 

"Not even close," Johnson said. "Anybody who knows me, that's not my character … I have a 3-year-old daughter back at home in California and I'm a dad before I'm anything else. Before I'm a football player, before I'm anything, I'm a dad first. I don't get to spend too much time with her during the season because she's back at home in California. 

"I take pride in being a dad. I'm not just any old type of dad that just comes and sees their kid. I'm present. I'm spending time. I'm putting my heart into my daughter. When it comes to the offseason, I take that serious. I communicate that to the coaches and they understood and hopefully respected it. I'm going to be there for my daughter because they can find another corner. My daughter can't find another dad."

While in California, Johnson remained engaged with the Bears by participating in Zoom meetings, speaking to cornerbacks coach Jon Hoke a few times a week and keeping in contact with teammates. 

"The communication never stopped," Johnson said. "I know at the end of the day, I'm a pro. I've been in this long enough. I know how to go about it. I know how to work out, stay in shape, continue to do what I need to do along with handling my business at home."

In addition to spending time with his daughter, Johnson was busy hosting a football camp May 20 and a golf outing last weekend to benefit the the Kevvy's Vision Project, a non-profit he founded that's dedicated to improving opportunities for too often overlooked communities in Fresno, Calif., Johnson's hometown. The organization is named after his childhood friend, Kev'Vion Schrubb, who lost his life due to gun violence in 2021. 

"I've had a lot of things going on, and now that that's all calmed down, it was appropriate for me to come back out here," Johnson said. "And then my daughter's mom, she graduated college as well, so she has a freer schedule. It's a lot of things that went into the timing of this. It's been planned out. I've communicated well with the coaches and the staff, so everybody knew when I was coming back and what was going on."

Take a look at the Bears on the practice fields during the third and final week of organized team activities at Halas Hall.

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