Lining up deep in the secondary at safety gives Tashaun Gipson Sr. a great view of the Bears defense. Having started 120 NFL games over nine seasons with four different teams also qualifies him as an expert at assessing players.
Given Gipson's unique perspective, it was interesting to hear his thoughts Thursday about a handful of his Bears teammates on all three levels of the defense.
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, was just a rumor to Gipson until this year's training camp. But everything Gipson had heard about the 6-3, 325-pounder turned out to be true.
"People used to always talk about him, like how he was specifically up against the run," Gipson said. "I know me and Eddie [Jackson] had a lot of talks and he used to talk about how effective [Goldman] was.
"When he's out there, there's not many guys who can do what he does and do it how he does it. It's a luxury to have guys like that. You've got linebackers behind him who can hunt; it makes their job easier as well."
Goldman is generally a player who is seen but not heard. But actions speak louder than words anyway.
"He doesn't talk much," Gipson said. "I think he might have said five words since I've been here. Five is a stretch, to be honest. But guys like that, he comes in and does his job and, I mean, the dude is talented. I'm excited to have a guy like that back on the defensive side of the ball because it makes my job easier. It makes everybody's job easier when you've got a guy like him.
"It's just going to be a fun time when this defense gets to rolling. Specifically having him back is huge."
Gipson acknowledged that the Bears defense will miss Danny Trevathan. The veteran linebacker was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, making him ineligible to play in the first three regular season games.
"DT, in my opinion, doesn't get enough credit for just being the heart of this defense," Gipson said. "He does the dirty work. Some of the things that he does, he doesn't get enough credit. I have respect for DT's game. Obviously, it's going to hurt not having a guy like that out there. He's the leader of the team. A lot of guys look up to him. He's a productive player. He's been doing this a very long time."
While he lauded Trevathan's importance to the defense, Gipson has complete faith in backup Alec Ogletree, a 10-year NFL veteran.
"Right now, it's going to be an opportunity for him to step up," Gipson said. "I think that everybody's got the utmost confidence in what he can do for this defense."
Ogletree, who has started 94 of 95 games played with the Rams (2013-17), Giants (2018-19) and Jets (2020), has shown excellent ball skills since signing with the Bears Aug. 4.
"In this business, everybody respects guys who can get to the rock," Gipson said. "The first thing that stood out [was] I think his first three days he had like four interceptions, which kind of ties into everything that we've been preaching this whole offseason about trying to get more hands on the football, get more turnovers and things like that.
"There was no better way to come in and make a statement than to get an interception [each of] his first four days. It wasn't just him being in the right place at the right time; it was him putting himself in position to make those plays.
"Guys respect that. It's hard not to notice a guy that's coming in right off the street and making those types of plays. It was huge for him. He kind of put all of us on notice.
"That's always hard to lose a guy like [Trevathan]. But like I said, when you've got a guy like 'Tree' who's behind you, it's just a perfect situation in the event that a guy like Ro (Roquan Smith) goes down or DT. The healthiest team will win and the teams that have the most depth, those are the teams that can last because injuries are a part of this game. Everybody can get hurt at some point."
Gipson remains exceptionally high on second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson, a 6-0, 196-pounder who appears primed to have a breakout season.
"I'll tell y'all again he's going to be a top five cornerback," Gipson said. "I mean that and I'm telling y'all straight faced. Some of the things that I've seen him do is just impressive. I don't think people really realize Jaylon is a bigger corner. He's put together. He can run, he can move, he can do everything necessary for a cornerback. He can tackle. He's not scared to put his nose in there."
Selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Utah, Johnson was a Day 1 starter who registered 44 tackles and a team-leading 15 pass breakups despite missing the final three games with a shoulder injury.
Gipson told Johnson that the leap he's making from Year 1 to 2 is reminiscent of what Gipson saw from Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey when they were teammates with the Jaguars in 2016-17.
"I told [Johnson] 'I see that jumps that you made from your rookie year to right now was similar to a guy that I knew in Jacksonville who's now the highest paid corner in the league,'" Gipson said. "It's just a different focus that [Johnson] has right now. I think that he is locked in right now to the point where we're going to be talking 10 weeks from now and I'm going to remind y'all what I said because I believe in him that much, not even just as a player [but] as a person. He's a good young kid and he's going to have a long career."
Take a look at each player on the Bears' 53-man active roster for the 2021 season. (Players listed alphabetically)