After yesterday’s preseason 34-38 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman stated that injured safeties Chris Conte and Craig Steltz could be making their return soon. How soon? Trestman said he could see the two returning to practice within this week.
Steltz, a strong safety, has spent all six of his NFL seasons with the Bears primarily as a special teams standout and backup. Steltz is recovering form a groin injury that has had him sidelined since the begiining of training camp. Conte, last season’s starting free safety, is returning from offseason shoulder surgery. They both have an uphill climb to be a significant part of this season’s roster.
Ryan Mundy stamped his mark early on in Friday’s exhibition, as he intercepted a Nick Foles pass. That is a plus for Mundy, as he is still making the transition to the free safety position. This does not bode well for Conte, as he is already behind about two weeks of training camp. That is without mentioning the kind of camp Brock Vereen has been having, which has been super impressive. M.D. Jennings was also brought in as a free agent to compete.
This all adds up, and could be the end of the Conte era in Chicago.
Steltz poses a very different case as to why he should be on the roster. As he has not been the best safety in injury relief, he has been a strong special teams player. Last season, he recorded nine special team stops, and 10 stops in 2011. He could still be a valuable component to the team, even if he is not in the safety rotation.
The fact of the matter is, the Bears’ front office put in too much effort and money rebuilding the safety spots and cannot go back to Conte with the way he struggled last season. With Steltz, he is just not as good as the guys in front of him. It’s time for a change and that begins with Adrian Wilson, Mundy, Vereen, Jennings and Danny McCray.