Al Louis-Jean (29) Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener


We’re less than one month to regular season football, but at least we’ve got Chicago Bears preseason football to watch and dissect afterwards. The Bears defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-10 in their first preseason game Thursday night. While many of the Bears’ reserve defenders looked solid in the game, one player who didn’t was number 29, cornerback Al Louis-Jean.

An undrafted second-year player out of Boston College, cornerback Al Louis-Jean saw action in nine games in 2014, totaling nine tackles and one pass defensed. He failed to record an interception, force a fumble or recover a fumble.

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Despite his limited playing time in 2014, the Bears signed Louis-Jean to a two-year deal in February, giving him a small leg up over some of the other marginal cornerbacks on the Bears roster this preseason.

The best thing Louis-Jean has going for him is his size. At 6’1”, Louis-Jean is one of the biggest cornerbacks on the Bears, matched only by Alan Ball in terms of height on the Bears’ roster. That height, favorable for matching up with receivers, especially down the field, is preferred in Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme.

That didn’t help him much Thursday night against Miami, though, where he struggled.

On a 3rd and six late in the second quarter, the Dolphins failed to convert, but Louis-Jean was called for a holding penalty, giving Miami the first down. On the next snap, he was beat for a 35-yard gain on a deep ball on a play in which he was in single coverage. He managed to fall on the receiver, who made a diving catch, thereby registering his only tackle for the game. Miami ended up kicking a field goal on the drive.

Aug 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver LaRon Byrd (81) makes a catch over Chicago Bears defensive back Al Louis-Jean (29) during the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

What to Expect from Louis-Jean in 2015

The bad game against Miami aside, Louis-Jean still has a good shot at making the Bears’ roster, especially if the team keeps six cornerbacks, as ESPN predicts they will.

The height alone (6’1) gives Louis-Jean a shot, and he flashed enough ability in 2014 to warrant a two-year deal in February. He’s capable of contributing on special teams, which is where he’d primarily see playing time on the 2015 Bears if he makes the roster.

Nov 27, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell (35) stiff arms Chicago Bears defensive back Al Louis-Jean (39) at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The primary roadblock for Louis-Jean is the competition at cornerback. Kyle Fuller, Tim Jennings and Alan Ball are locks to make the roster, and Tracy Porter is a good bet, as well. Sherrick McManis is an excellent special teamer, and forced and recovered a fumble and broke up a pass play Thursday against Miami. McManis, along with outside linebacker Sam Acho, probably had the best game of anyone on the Bears.

With Fuller, Jennings, Ball, McManis and Porter, that leaves Louis-Jean probably competing with DeMontre Hurst for the final cornerback slot. I think Louis-Jean has the edge, both because of his height and the logjam at slot corner, where Hurst projects to play.

Jennings figures to slide inside to the slot corner position in the nickel formation, and Porter is also more of a slot cornerback. Unless Hurst proves himself far superior to Louis-Jean on special teams, look for the latter to make the roster as a reserve corner whose height makes him a good candidate to play on the outside, where the team is looking for bodies.

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