Jaylon Johnson on playing through pain: ‘I wasn’t my normal self out there,’ the Chicago Bears cornerback tells the Score

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			Jaylon Johnson on playing through pain: ‘I wasn’t my normal self out there,’ the Chicago Bears cornerback tells the Score
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Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said he played through pain and discomfort after an oblique injury — and wasn’t his normal self — during Sunday’s 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions.

During his weekly appearance on the ”The Parkins & Spiegel Show” on WSCR-AM 670, Johnson, who was limited in practices last week leading up to the game, said he played through the pain because “I feel like I still give my team the best opportunity to win even though I’m not necessarily at my fullest strength.”

The question of Johnson’s health came up with coach Matt Eberflus on Monday because Johnson was at the center of a couple of big Lions plays, most notably a 44-yard pass from Jared Goff to wide receiver Tom Kennedy in which Johnson uncharacteristically struggled to stick to Kennedy.

The Lions scored the winning touchdown two plays after that third-and-8 completion to cap a second-half comeback from 14 points down.

When asked if Johnson’s injury affected him, Eberflus said: “We don’t make excuses. He was out there playing. We’ve got to play.”

Johnson said he understood where his coach was coming from.

“There’s also a realism in it, too, in knowing that the player isn’t the same playing through pain,” Johnson said. “That doesn’t change the expectation or the standard of play, of course. Everybody’s going to be graded equally throughout the game or throughout the season, no matter (if there are) injuries or not.

“But at the end of the day, I know and they know as well that I wasn’t my normal self out there. And I didn’t feel like that. But it was still enough to where I was able to be out there and they felt like I was able to be out there and still hold me to that standard. I definitely hear what he’s saying by that, but it was also a realistic outlook on it as well, knowing that I’m not 100%.”

On Friday, Johnson was listed as questionable to play because of his injury.

He started Sunday, but after making a tackle early in the second quarter, he motioned to be taken out of the game and stayed on the sideline for the rest of the drive. Playing in Johnson’s place, cornerback Lamar Jackson committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone on Kennedy, bringing the Lions to the 1-yard line. They scored four plays later.

Johnson returned later in the second quarter.

The follow-up question for Eberflus on Monday was if there are times coaches realize they shouldn’t have played an injured player, and Eberflus again didn’t budge on his standard.

“These guys are pro athletes,” he said. “These guys have been playing this game a long time, and ultimately it’s going to be up to them. They say they can go, that means they can go, and we have to trust them and we really leave it up to them.

“We know that there was some type of injury, but we leave it up to them. And those guys, when they say they’re going, they’re going.”

Johnson declined to speak to reporters after the game and again Monday afternoon. He said on the Score he needed a break from having to answer questions after a game in which he was in pain and didn’t perform up to his expectations.

But he explained on the show the issues he had playing through the injury.

“I know on one of the pivot routes I wasn’t as explosive out of my break as I normally am,” Johnson said. “My other one, not having too much of my explosion and my twitchiness that I normally have. My strength and stability wasn’t 100%. So I feel like there were just some times where I wasn’t able to go like I normally am to be able to cover those routes.

“But I still could have put myself in a better position, even though that was the case. I still could have done some things better to help myself. But at the end of the day, I still played in a game and I still am responsible for those catches.”

Johnson also committed two of four penalties that helped a Lions touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, both for illegal use of hands. Eberflus said Monday he thought the first call was a good one but added on the second call, “And then from there, we obviously all saw the one.”

That second penalty negated a Jack Sanborn interception, and the Lions scored on the next play. Johnson said he asked the official what he did wrong.

“He said I got my hands in his face. He kept it as simple as that,” Johnson said. “One of the coaches on their sideline even said that I punched him in his face. So I mean, I don’t know what they saw, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. It was called. But I definitely think that was a miss.”

Johnson disputed the notion it was a “rough day” — “I feel like I’ve had worse days than that day,” he said — but it didn’t appear to be an easy one. Johnson, however, was prepared for that.

“There’s not too much that will pull me out unless I absolutely can’t go,” he said.

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