Not quite every day of training camp, but pretty close, has had a different combination of free-strong safeties. Handicapping who will emerge as the starting tandem from among M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray, Ryan Mundy, Brock Vereen and Adrian Wilson is little more than an exercise in speculation.
That begins to change with the start of games, where results will count more than practice performances.
Vereen was the starting free safety through most of the pre-camp practices. He was abruptly demoted last week, with McCray stepping in with the No. 1 defense. If Vereen was upset with the change, it didn’t show.
“In my mind, I’m still a rookie who has to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster,” Vereen said. “I’m far too young to even worry about starting, not starting, whatever. In my mind I still need to prove I’m worthy of being on this team.”
The Bears experimented with Mundy and Wilson, both more prototypical strong safeties, paired in the deep secondary. That may be the most physical pairing at a position that struggled with tackling last season but does pose questions as to the coverage capabilities, something that was not a major concern before Chris Conte’s difficulties last season.
Wilson’s abilities in run support and fitting with the Bears’ evolving scheme are critical.
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“He's a veteran player, he seems to becoming more consistent as of late,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. “Once he found out and he realized what we wanted him to do, you have veteran players that come from different teams, and every scheme requires them to some stuff a little bit different.
“So I think he's getting a better understanding each and every day what's required to play safety in this particular scheme and so I like the progress so far.”