The question of the Bears’ starting free safety position will hang in the air for another week as coaches, tasked with deciding from among Chris Conte, Danny McCray and Brock Vereen at free safety, decided to go with “all of the above.”
And the situation has to do with more than just play at two positions in the deep middle.
The situation has the feel of an ongoing preseason. Ryan Mundy is the starter at strong safety, but McCray, while expected to open at free safety Sunday vs. the Buffalo Bills, will cycle in at free along with Conte and Vereen. And Mundy was mentioned by coach Marc Trestman in the flow of the rotation.
“We’re going to roll them in,” Trestman said Wednesday. “If Chris is up, we’re going to rotate the safeties. We’ll rotate them between Ryan and Danny and Chris. We’ll rotate them around. Are we set on who we’re going to start? No. But I expect all three of them will play, and Brock will get some work as well.”
Conte practiced but with some limitations as he continues through the official concussion protocol because of the head injury suffered in the Seattle game. But the way Conte played before the blow to the head, included an end-zone pass breakup and a physical tackle for a stop.
“He played fast and he was aggressive,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, “and we liked that.”
What coaches also have liked has been the play of McCray and Mundy in particular on special teams, where coverage an average of 11.7 yards on punt returns and 28.2 on kickoff returns.
“They are a big part of what we are special teams-wise,” Trestman said. “And a big part of why they were brought in here was to not only have the opportunity to start but have the opportunity to play special teams. So by rotating guys in we think we can keep them fresh and create an advantage special teams-wise as well.”