At the recent NFL Scouting Combine, Lovie Smith said he is happy with the Chicago Bears’ current safety duo of Chris Conte and Major Wright.
“I don’t think we’ve been in this good of a position at safety,” Smith said from Indianapolis. “I think I’m on record on how I feel about Major Wright. He’s a good football player; a great football player that hasn’t had an offseason with us yet truly. I’m just as excited about Chris Conte.”
Yet Wright missed four games last season, and five games his rookie season, due to injury. He also struggled mightily at times as a starter in 2011.
Conte looked solid as a rookie last year. He started nine games last season and appeared to fully grasp his duties in Smith’s Cover 2. Yet he was placed on injured reserve late in the season with a foot injury.
“I’m excited about [Conte and Wright],” Smith added. “But at the same time, we do need to provide more depth.”
With both players lacking experience and tending toward injury, a veteran presence on the back end is needed. The team might re-sign Craig Steltz, but he’s more of a role player and special teams ace.
To fill that veteran role, the Bears are reportedly interested in safety LaRon Landry, formerly of the Washington Redskins.
Per the Twitter account of Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports:
“LaRon Landry to make visits. Interested teams are Jets, Philly, Det, Chi.”
Landry, the former sixth overall pick in 2007, is a five-year veteran whose natural position is strong safety, although he did spend two years as a starter at free safety. He was a Pro Bowl alternate his rookie season.
He’s dealt with injuries recently as well, starting just 17 games the past two years. He's still recovering from an Achilles injury and could miss time next year. He’s easily the best safety on the market, but only if he can stay on the field.
His versatility, experience and overall body of work are very appealing and fit all the criteria Smith is looking for in a free agent safety. Expect the Bears to meet with him at some point this week.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.