Biggs: Bears could turn to Bullocks at safety

The Chicago Bears were without starting strong safety Al Afalava, who is sidelined with a right shoulder injury, and the man he replaced Kevin Payne, who has a back injury, when they practiced Tuesday.

It could leave them scrambling in the secondary when they face the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night. Coach Lovie Smith hasn’t ruled out either player, and the Bears will have a light practice this morning before heading to the airport, but the next man up could be veteran Josh Bullocks.

Bullocks was signed to a one-year contract during the offseason with the plan being for him to provide some experience and depth. He hasn’t gotten many opportunities, and has been inactive the last two weeks, but cornerback Charles Tillman said Bullocks is ready for the job. If Bullocks is used, it would mean he has leapfrogged Craig Steltz, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008 who the Bears touted strongly during the offseason program.

The good news for the Bears is that Tillman will be ready to go. Their top cornerback was lost during the first half of their loss to Arizona when he dislocated his left shoulder trying to arm tackle Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston on an end around. Tillman has a history of shoulder subluxations, and has undergone two shoulder surgeries, including one as recently as January. That surgery was on his right shoulder though.

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