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Chalk Talk: Will Johnson be Week 1 starter?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on

Drafting Jaylon Johnson gives the Bears a very potent cornerback tandem. Do you think he has the skills to be a starter opening day?
Troy P.
Valparaiso, Indiana

There's no question in my mind that Jaylon Johnson possesses the skills to win the starting cornerback job opposite Kyle Fuller in training camp. The Bears view Johnson as a physical press corner who boasts size, athleticism, awareness, instincts and intelligence. Many draft analysts thought he was a first-round talent who slipped into the second round due to a shoulder injury he played through last season at Utah. So Johnson has the skills to start early, but he'll have to show a firm grasp of the defense and the ability to transfer what he learns in the classroom and in virtual meetings to the field in training camp and the preseason. Generally speaking, it's going to be more difficult for NFL rookies to make an immediate impact this year due to the coronavirus cancelling OTA practices and minicamps. But even if Johnson doesn't start the season opener against the Lions in Detroit, I would expect him to eventually win the job sometime this season, barring an injury. Other top contenders for the position likely will be returning veteran Kevin Toliver and free-agent acquisition Artie Burns.

I understand the NFL has tabled the new rule that would let a team take a fourth-and-15 at their own 25 instead of an onside kick. Would the league consider testing that rule during the preseason? That would give coaches a chance to try it without it affecting games that matter.
Doc C.
McFarland, Wisconsin

The NFL is expected to experiment with a "sky judge" in the preseason, putting an eighth official who will watch the game on a video monitor in a press box and help on-field officials change incorrect calls. The league might eventually do the same thing with the onside kick alternative, but I haven't heard anything about that happening this preseason. And frankly, I don't think it's as necessary to do that with the fourth-and-15 play as it is with the implementation of a sky judge because that requires an involved process of communication and execution that needs to be smoothed out.

I've always felt that Wilber Marshall never got his just due as an all-time great linebacker. Athletically, I thought he was better than Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson. What are your thoughts?
Larry D.
Sacramento, California

I agree with you that Wilber Marshall isn't generally mentioned among all-time great Bears linebackers. But I think that has more to do with the franchise having four legendary Hall of Fame middle linebackers in Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson. Marshall was voted to two Pro Bowls, so he did receive some recognition. But I think he was also overshadowed because he only played four seasons with the Bears and was part of a defense that included three Hall of Famers in Singletary, Richard Dent and Dan Hampton. In terms of athleticism, Marshall may have been the best athlete on the Bears teams he played for from 1984-87. His combination of size and speed was unmatched and led to some monster hits. Just ask former Lions quarterback Joe Ferguson. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, I suggest a quick trip to YouTube.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week.
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