Chicago initially signed the 28-year-old defensive back on December 1 after third-string cornerback Duke Shelley went on injured reserve. Due to a depleted secondary, Virgin saw the field twice for the Bears this season, playing Weeks 15 and 16, contributing on special teams only.
An undrafted free agent out of West Alabama in 2017, Virgin played 21 games for the Detroit Lions from 2018-20. He has also had brief stops with the Houston Texans (2017-18), Los Angeles Rams (2020), and New England Patriots (2021) before his time with the Bears.
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Corner Remains Primary Need for Chicago
The Bears have found one shutdown corner in Jaylon Johnson, who is finishing a solid second season. Johnson has vowed to work on his game this offseason, citing learning how to play in the slot as a top priority.
“I gotta learn more. I gotta become more versatile to be able to play that slot position,” Johnson said in December 13. “It’s bigger than just man-to-man coverage. You gotta be able to have run fits. You gotta be able to play zone and have different zone drops and things like that. That’s definitely something I need to improve on as a defender if I want to be that top guy and be able to follow guys and play the inside at a high level, that’s what I gotta learn and get more reps at it.,” Johnson added. “That’s what I plan on doing moving forward.”
Beyond Johnson, however, things get a bit murky.
Veteran Artie Burns had a slow start but has played better in recent weeks, pushing his coverage grade up to 83.6, while allowing a passer rating of 92.9 when targeted, per Pro Football Focus.
Kindle Vildor, a 2020 fifth-round pick, was benched in favor of Burns earlier this season. Vildor has allowed a passer rating of 136.1, earning a coverage grade of 46.0.
Rookie Thomas Graham Jr. has shown flashes at the position this year after the team’s mounting injures and COVID-19 outbreak gave him an opportunity. Graham has allowed opposing QBs a passer rating of 103.3 and has earned a coverage grade of 90.1, but the Bears haven’t given the rookie CB many snaps in recent weeks, which is beyond baffling.
Graham will be one to watch next year, but look for Chicago to try to shore up the position this offseason.
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Bears Now Have Open Slot on Practice Squad
With Virgin now gone, the Bears’ practice squad consists of wide receiver Rodney Adams, defensive lineman Auzoyah Alufohai, wideout Isaiah Coulter, offensive lineman Dieter Eiselen, o-lineman Arlington Hambright, defensive back Michael Joseph, DB BoPete Keyes, defensive lineman LaCale London, linebacker Ledarius Mack, fullback Ben Mason, wide receiver Dazz Newsome, linebacker Charles Snowden, wide receiver/returner Nsimba Webster, offensive lineman Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and quarterback Ryan Willis.
There are 15 of the available 16 slots filled, so Chicago could very well be adding another player in the coming days before finishing its regular season against NFC North rivals the Minnesota Vikings.