LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The trade of Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles was made possible, in part, by the Bears’ belief in the young members of their defensive line rotation. It was also fueled by their desire to see those young edge rushers get more opportunities to prove they should be part of the long-term plan.
Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson figure to soak up most of the snaps vacated by Quinn’s departure.
But there’s another young body in the defensive line room who could start to get some Sunday snaps now that No. 94 is ring-chasing in Philadelphia.
Jonathan, 22, was claimed by the Bears on Sept. 1 off waivers from the Buffalo Bills. Jonathan signed with the Bills in the offseason after going undrafted out of Syracuse. He was also the No. 1 pick in the 2022 CFL Global Draft, but he elected to try and make the Bills’ roster instead of joining the Montreal Alouettes.
Jonathan has only been active for two of the Bears’ first seven games this season, notching two combined tackles in the Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
But he has impressed behind the scenes on the scout team, and the Bears want to see if more reps allow him to tap into his potential.
“He’s got a really good move area,” defensive line coach Travis Smith said of Jonathan. “When he’s kind of declaring war on an offensive tackle or guard when he’s rushing. But two, he was raised in Buffalo this rookie year, and then coming here, effort. Relentless. He has been practice player of the week from a scout look because of his effort.
“I think that’s where you are going to see him show up on tape, flying around out of the stack, flying to the ball on passes. Relentless motor.”
At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, Jonathan notched 15.0 sacks in 43 career games at Syracuse. Entering the draft, he was seen as a high IQ, high motor defensive lineman who got the most out of his physical tools. Draft experts knocked him for the lack of size and NFL-caliber athleticism.
But a lot of people around Halas Hall are excited about the opportunity in front of Jonathan and what he might be able to do with it.
“Kingley’s here not just because he got cut and he fell in our lap. Kingsley is here because we evaluated him and we like his tools, his traits, the way he played, his effort he plays with,” Smith said. “We’re all excited. He has been studying every week as he was going to start, even though he hasn’t been starting or playing. We’re excited. It’s a great opportunity for him to come in and step in. I’m excited to see how he plays with more reps.”
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Bears only have three edge rushers in the rotation — Gipson, Robinson, and Al-Quadin Muhammad. There’s a chance Jonathan’s opportunity begins this weekend in Dallas.
Head coach Matt Eberflus said they’d “see where the plan goes” regarding Jonathan getting more in-game reps against the Cowboys.
It might not come Sunday in Dallas. But Quinn’s departure opens up a spot in the edge-rushing rotation. One the Bears seem eager to see if Jonathan can fill.