Chicago Bears: Is Kevin Toliver ready to be a starter?

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Due to an injury to Prince Amukamara, undrafted corner Kevin Toliver will be starting on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will the Chicago Bears regret it?

The Chicago Bears have a chance to move to 3-1 on Sunday at Soldier Field. To do that they will have to beat the 2-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will more than likely start quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bucs have great offensive weapons, including Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Did I mention that Fitzpatrick has thrown for more than 400 yards in each of his first three games?

In case you couldn’t tell, the Bears will have their hands full on the lake front. With the weapons that the Bucs have on offense, the corners will play a huge role. The only issue is that Prince Amukamara hurt his hamstring last week against the Arizona Cardinals and Marcus Cooper will also miss the game to injury. That means that undrafted rookie Kevin Toliver will make his first career start.

Toliver played in the second half of the game against the Cardinals and really struggled. He had a 49.6 grade according to Pro Football Focus. He was burned badly on a double move and, after that, was playing so far off of the receivers that all the Cardinals had to do was run 10-yard curl routes against him to be successful.

Well, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will need to make sure they help him against Tampa. However, him getting reps with the starters this week, as well as planning to be a starter may help him.

If there’s one thing that’s on Toliver’s side it’s the confidence that he has in himself. I’ll tell you that confidence is a crazy thing. Sometimes that can make all the difference in the world. Toliver certainly believes in his ability.

If I’m Fangio, I’d have Kyle Fuller glued to Evans, Bryce Callahan on Jackson and then Toliver on Godwin. These matchups make the most sense to me. Godwin has been awesome, but is still in his second season. So, that could be a matchup that Toliver, who was highly respected at LSU, could be familiar with since both players are still so young.

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Toliver flashed at LSU and made plenty of plays in the preseason and training camp.  There’s a reason why the Bears felt comfortable enough to put him on the 53-man roster and not bring in any corners from free agency this week.

Don’t forget that Fangio has had success with less on the Bears’ defense. In 2016, the Bears shut down Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones and Golden Tate with defensive backs Jacoby Glenn, Harold Jones-Quartey, Cre’von LeBlanc, and Callahan (who was not as good as he is now).

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The 2018 Bears have a lot more talent on defense now and Khalil Mack applying pressure on Fitzpatrick should help lower the amount of time he has to find his receivers, which will only help Toliver. I think Toliver is ready for the moment, but we will find out on Sunday.