BOURBONNAIS, Ill.—The Chicago Bears made it their top objective in the offseason to solve some of the woes they’ve been experiencing in the secondary, particularly at the safety position.
For starters, they made pass rusher Julius Peppers the highest-paid defensive player in the league with the idea being he’ll make a life a whole lot easier on the back end of the defense. Then, they traded for one-time Bear Chris Harris by picking up the veteran safety in a deal with the Carolina Panthers, and finally they spent their top draft pick – No. 75 overall – on Florida safety Major Wright.
Peppers looks good so far in training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. But Harris is on the shelf with a back injury and Wright went out of Monday’s practice with a groin muscle injury. Same position, different year, same story.
Harris’ back injury isn’t believed to be serious, but as coach Lovie Smith said, those can take time. The hope is Wright is not seriously injured either, but he’s expected to at least miss a few days at a time when he was beginning to get some reps with the first team in the absence of Harris.
“Big hits and also I like the way he's played the ball,” Smith said of Wright. “He's been around the ball quite a bit. He has good hands, he's eager. I'm excited about him being here. He's a good football player. We need to get him back out on the football field, though, because there's good competition at the safety position.”
But the good competition now is amongst some retreads, players the team has tried before. Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz, Josh Bullocks and Al Afalava are rotating through. That’s a group that has helped land the Bears in the position they’re in now, needing some help. After all, nobody swaps out safeties like the Bears. The team has changed starting safeties 41 times in the previous six seasons under Smith. Count ’em.
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