The Bears won’t announce the extent of slot corner Kyler Gordon’s hand injury until Wednesday afternoon, but rumors indicate the news won’t be good and that Gordon may miss some time. If that is the case, the next man up figures to be second-year player Josh Blackwell.
If you don’t recognize Blackwell’s name, don’t feel bad. He started the year as an unheralded waiver claim from the Eagles after the NFL’s final cut down day. Blackwell didn’t get a ton of tick to start his NFL career, and only played nine special teams snaps in Week 1. But Blackwell continually impressed in the third phase and quickly became a core special teamer.
When Gordon missed time with a concussion in the latter half of the season, Blackwell got his first opportunity on defense and played well. Over four games, Blackwell played 133 defensive snaps and only surrendered a 53.8% completion rate when targeted. He racked up 12 tackles on defense over that same time frame.
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“What gives me confidence is I’ve seen him do it,” said star outside cornerback Jaylon Johnson about Blackwell. “I mean, shoot, he played against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last year and he did a really good job. He’s definitely been out there in the fire, he’s been thrown out there. He knows what it looks like, he knows how it feels to be out there in a real game playing against some real competition. So, I’m looking forward to him going out there, learning that chemistry with the ones and then playing ball.”
Gordon hurt his hand while rushing Jordan Love in the third quarter of the Bears’ Week 1 loss to the Packers. The team made the decision to have Gordon focus solely on the slot this season, rather than having him play slot and outside corner like he did last year, and early returns made it seem like the right decision. Gordon appeared to improve throughout training camp and made one particularly impressive PBU on Sunday.
The Bears first injury report for Week 2 will be announced after the team practices on Wednesday.