LAKE FOREST – Kyler Gordon has been one of the biggest bright spots of Bears training camp when he has been on the field.
However, the rookie corner has missed the last three days of practice with what head coach Matt Eberflus has deemed a "day-by-day" ailment.
After seeing action at outside corner during OTAs, the Bears asked Gordon to learn the nickel during training camp as they search for the right combination in the secondary. Missing practice while trying to become proficient at two positions during your first NFL offseason would be a lot for most rookies.
But Gordon continues to show the Bears he's not just any rookie.
"He's not practicing, but he comes in each day, and he's with his position coach, and he's going over what he would be doing in practice," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Sunday. "That's been impressive that it's not just, 'Hey, I'm out.' But he's attentive in the meetings. He's working at his craft in the morning. He's staying late watching tape. He comes in with questions.
"That's not a typical rookie. Those are veteran habits. I'm excited about that part of it."
Gordon was excited about the prospect of moving to the nickel. The Washington product wants to be a factor in run support and get after the quarterback when called on to blitz.
As for whether or not Gordon will play inside or out on Sundays, that could be a situation-by-situation decision.
"It's like a puzzle," Eberflus said. "You're trying to fit it together and put the best guys out there, and is this combination of corners better than this combination? You also have to look up matchup, so that's a week-to-week thing. Sometimes it might look different week to week, where it's based on a matchup situation we like, and then by down and distance. You might like a certain matchup better on third down in two minute than you do on first or second down. So that's all-encompassing."
On Sunday, the Bears were missing their top three options at slot corner, with Gordon, Tavon Young, and Thomas Graham Jr. all missing practice. With those three out, rookie Jaylon Jones ran with the ones and notched a nice pass breakup.
The Bears expect Gordon to be back shortly. He's one of several players listed in the "day-by-day" category that doesn't give a timetable for their return. They'll play it safe with the young defensive back. But with the secondary picture still unclear, the Bears undoubtedly would like to see Gordon in action Saturday during their preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs to give them a complete look at the unit.
This rare rookie will be part of the Bears' starting defense in Week 1. that's clear. The only question is where Gordon will line up inside, outside, or be a Swiss Army knife from the jump.
One thing is certain: The Bears' expectations for Gordon are incredibly high, and he seems to raise the bar daily with his work on and off the field.