Bears experimenting with different cornerback combinations

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Bears head coach Matt Eberflus has made it clear that he’s experimenting with different combinations at multiple positions. While the offensive line has dominated headlines, we’re starting to see the same happening in the secondary.

At this point, it’s clear that cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and rookie Kyler Gordon will be starters when the season kicks off. Johnson will be CB1 on the outside, but it’s Gordon’s role that’s still being determined.

Since the start of training camp, Gordon has been splitting reps between the outside and in the slot. Given he played both positions in college, the coaches want to see where he fits best — but also how that would impact a starting groping.

According to The Athletic, Gordon played almost exclusively at nickel cornerback during Monday’s practice. The combination featured Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor on the outside with Gordon in the slot.

For Eberflus, he’s trying to find the right combination of players — which goes for every position. But the question is whether the secondary is better off with a grouping of Johnson and Gordon on the outside with Tavon Young in the slot or Johnson and Vildor outside and Gordon at nickel.

“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.”

That evaluation should ramp up once the pads come on this week. There are several factors at play. It’s not just a matter of where Gordon fits best — because he’s flashing in both positions. But is the cornerback grouping better with Young in the slot or Vildor on the outside. It’s something the coaching staff will have to figure out over the next several weeks.

Unfortunately, Chicago hasn’t gotten a look at another option in Thomas Graham Jr., who’s missed the last several practices with a hamstring injury.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire