Secondary: Bears keep nine DBs with competition still at safety

Secondary: Bears keep nine DBs with competition still at safety
August 30, 2014, 6:15 pm
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The Bears invested two draft choices in defensive backs and added two more in free agency, both of whom have been on course to start. It is a position area expected to benefit enormously from the upgrades on the defensive line. Three of the nine DBs (rookies Kyle Fuller and Brock Vereen, plus Demontre Hurst) have never played an NFL snap but all are being counted on for special teams as well.

The roster:

Starters: Tim Jennings, Ryan Mundy, Danny McCray, Charles Tillman
Depth: Chris Conte, Kyle Fuller, Demontre Hurst, Sherrick McManis, Brock Vereen

The cuts: Isaiah Frey, Kelvin Hayden, M.D. Jennings, Al Louis-Jean, Craig Steltz, Marcus Trice, C.J. Wilson.

The thinking: Cornerback was fortified with the offseason extension for Jennings, re-signing Tillman, and drafting Fuller. McManis, while primarily a force on special teams, had one of the best preseasons of any DB and established himself as an option if injuries create gaps.

Hayden did not play in Cleveland but was still released in a mild surprise, since Frey was cut previously, leaving the Bears a bit short at third cornerback. Wilson led the Bears with two interceptions in preseason and delivered several pass breakups, but did not have a special-teams tackle in the four preseason games. Hurst was also not credited with any special-teams stops but led the Bears with eight tackles vs. Philadelphia, followed by four solos vs. Jacksonville and three against Seattle.

Safety saw an influx of alternatives to Conte and Major Wright, particularly new starters Danny McCray and Ryan Mundy. In addition, Conte recovering from shoulder surgery and playing well in Seattle before suffering a concussion means that there is some level of ongoing competition. Vereen projects as one long-term option at free safety after holding, then losing that job early in training camp.