With Artie Burns injured, the Chicago Bears have given Buster Skrine a chance to earn reps on the outside
Entering training camp, an argument was made that there would be a three-man competition between Artie Burns, Jaylon Johnson, and Kevin Toliver to start at corner for the Chicago Bears. However, Artie Burns tore his ACL and Johnson has yet to practice with a shoulder issue.
Cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend noted that Skrine has been taking snaps on the outside, and not to rule him out of starting there.
"“He’s capable of playing outside,” Townsend said. “He’s a fantastic player. He plays the game the right way. He’s gonna give you his all every day, that’s all you can ask for. But Buster is a true defensive back that sometimes gets type-cast as a nickel.”"
In this scenario, Kindle Vildor, or Duke Shelley would move into the slot. It is fair to note that these two are draft picks, and are signed longer than Toliver, who was a UDFA.
Beyond that, Skrine has played 15 snaps on the outside since 2017. To be fair, in 2017 he played 320 snaps on the outside and 286 in 2016. Still, that was about 30% of total snap count over those two years, and he was a slot corner who moved outside at times.
In 2018, he did not play outside and only lined up 15 times there in Chicago. So, him heading back to the outside would be one heck of a development.
Lastly, Vildor played outside in college. If he really was earning a shot over Toliver, he has just as much of a case to be an outside corner as Skrine.
It could be fair that the Bears want Shelley to take over for Skrine next season, so giving him those slot reps could be valuable. Still, the question has to become whether they would be okay with taking a downgrade at slot and putting Skrine in a spot where is worse overall as well.
For now, Toliver is still the likely name to start Week One. Still, it is in the Chicago Bears sight to give Skrine a fair shake on the outside.