Bears News: Johnson says Williams is showing good ball placement in OTAs, minicamp

Bears News: Johnson says Williams is showing good ball placement in OTAs, minicamp


by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - This offseason came with some changes for cornerback Jaylon Johnson. He has secured a four-year, $76 million contract with $43.8 million guaranteed at sign. But he also changed his number.

For his first four seasons, Johnson wore number 33, but now he will wear number 1.

“It feels like home. For one, I wore it in (middle) school, then high school, and then, of course, in college,” Johnson said. “So, coming back home feels good, and I feel like it looks good as well.”

His contract provided him with the fourth-most guaranteed money at signing of any secondary player currently in the league. He has a growing family. He and his fiance already have a four-year-old daughter and are expecting a child, making that guaranteed money even more important.

Now that their future is secured, Johnson has shifted his focus to growing more mentally and spiritually.

“I feel like I’ve always been talented physically. I think now, just getting more reps, seeing things different, talking to guys, just being able to see the game from a wider lens, I feel like you come in as a rookie and you’re developing. You come in with a narrow lens, and now that, being in my fifth year, I can open my lens and see thingt I couldn’t see before in my previous years. I’m pretty comfortable with route concepts, just how offenses go about doing things. I feel like just now finding that rhythm again, getting back into it in minicamp,” Johnson said. “But I feel like for me, I’m on a different level. I feel like mentally and then I feel like the consistency part just comes in with honing in on my technique and that’s something I take extreme pride in. Of course in the offseason and then these next few weeks, going in preparing for camp, I feel like I’m going to come in better than I ever have just because of my preparation, just the way that I’ve been able to grow mentally, spiritually, in all aspects.”

Last season, DJ Moore was by far Chicago's best receiver in the locker room. Now, with the additions of Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze, Johnson has multiple elite receivers to face in practice, including mandatory minicamp.

Johnson feels that facing this level of talent, particularly Allen because of his veteran presence and unpredictability in his route running, will improve his game.

“The competitive nature in me just having to go against, I’m going to say more Keenan, of course I went against DJ last year, so, not so much a new thing, but more so being able see a guy like that, kind of talk to him about certain things that he does and the reason why he does certain things, I feel like it’s definitely exciting for me and then to truly be able to go against it because I feel like he’s a receiver that’s unpredictable and I feel like is skillful a lot of these guys are in the league that do a great things. I feel like they’re not as unpredictable, not as crafty, as I feel like Keenan is,” Johnson said. “So, being able to go against that every day, I think, is something that can definitely help me and the DBs to get better and then of course, Rome coming in, finding his way. I feel like more mentally and then I feel like letting his instincts and his physical being take over after that and then of course DJ is DJ. He’s a playmaker. So I feel like for me, just every time I come out, especially for camp, I know I’m going to be ready to go for sure.”

Iron is sharpening iron in the secondary with the combination of elite receivers and defensive backs. But Johnson and the rest of the defense are also focused on challenging rookie quarterback Caleb Williams to ensure he develops into the franchise quarterback he is expected to become.

“The biggest thing that I feel like that I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older in this league is giving rookies different looks, and I think we do a good job of that of trying to really confuse him at practice and not even just because it’s him but just as a defense, you want to be able to confuse quarterbacks,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the biggest thing that comes with being a rookie quarterback is being able to analyze what the defense is in and then I feel like from there, I feel it’s easier to make the right reads. But, it’s a lot harder when you’re doing that in the middle of your drop instead of at the line of scrimmage.”

Despite the defense’s attempts to challenge him, Williams has performed well overall in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.

He struggled a bit more on Thursday, June 6, due to heavy winds causing some balls to sail on him, but besides that day, his touch on his passes has been elite.

“I would say the touch on some of his passes … I think it’s really hard to say because you see it in college. So, now you kind of seeing (it) up close, it’s like, ‘Okay, that’s what they were talking about.’ But, I know he has a special arm when it just comes to touch, ball position,” Johnson said. “I feel like especially the first day, I think it was OTAs, he was fitting some seam passes in that were pretty, I was like, ‘Okay, he’s putting those right over the defender’s head.’ So, he got a good sense of touch and a good sense of ball placement. I feel like that stood out the most.”

Minicamp also provided Johnson a chance to see rookie receiver Rome Odunze in action. Odunze’s elite potential is unquestionable from the 1,640 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns he put up last season with the University of Washington.

Johnson particularly took note of his contested catch ability from the film and has seen flashes of that ability in person.

“I probably say his contested catch is pretty good. I know a lot of the highlights that I’ve seen of course in college were him going up top and making some very good contested catches, even against some of my youth, there (were) some pretty good catches he made,” Johnson said. “But really just watching his game, I feel like he’s truly like a gamer when the lights come on, it’s time to go. I feel like he’s one to make a play and I feel like he showed that in college and I feel like now just showing flashes of him making plays in the air when the ball’s in the air, him going and getting and making those tough catches. I feel like that’s something that he’s going to really bring and add a lot of value to our team.”

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