Tyrique Stevenson missed the Chicago Bears' week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings with an ankle injury. It allowed the team to start their other rookie, Terell Smith. Smith had played well in spot starts after missing time early into the season with an illness.
The Chicago Bears are getting solid play from their rookie cornerbacks
Smith played well against the Vikings in a win, and it is the best game we have seen the defense play to this day. Tyrique Stevenson has been back in the last two weeks, but the Bears have notably been platooning the two players.
First, Smith played 27%, and Stevenson played 73%, but now Smith is up to 31%. Overall, the difference is still 92 snaps for Stevenson compared to 40 for Smith, but Smith is slowly creeping into his time. Is it because they are keeping Stevenson healthy, or does Smith deserve it?
Smith has not had as many chances to get exposed as Stevenson, but he has not had as many issues in coverage, either. Smith is a sound tackler and has avoided the rookie treatment for the most part.
Stevenson has allowed 2.08 yards per snap in coverage, while Smith has allowed 1.21 yards per snap. Stevenson is allowing 7.7 yards per target compared to 6.8 for Smith. Smith is allowing fewer yards after the catch per reception as well. Stevenson does have more pass breakups and an interception, but that comes with getting more targets your way.
These are the same quarterbacks and receivers. Teams should be seeing a new cornerback and thinking it is time to attack him. This has not happened despite Smith having a role in six or seven games now.
If anything, the Chicago Bears have to keep platooning these two. There is something flashing with Smith. Stevenson is not a complete liability, so he does not deserve to be benched, but he is allowing more yards and mostly more big plays compared to the other rookie cornerbacks.