The Chicago Bears announced that Chris Conte, the club’s starting safety the past three seasons, will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Conte had shoulder surgery in late March and is expected to miss at least half the preseason.
“Chris Conte will start off on active PUP,” GM Phil Emery said today. “Obviously Chris had shoulder surgery last [March] and he's not all the way back. We anticipate that he'll be back during the course of the preseason.
“Chris made the decision that he wanted surgery and he pressed forward and he’s in that recovery phase. We anticipate that somewhere here in camp, not before the first preseason game, but after that, that he’ll start practice. Depending on how well he practices and how well he responds to contact will determine how many preseason games he plays after that first one. But it won’t be the first preseason game.”
This is not good news for Conte, who missed all of OTAs and minicamp as well, as he’s attempting to ward off a host of newcomers for the starting safety gig.
“Safeties, it’s a wide-open battle,” said Emery. “[There are a] number of players that have been here, a number of players that we have brought in. There’s no declared winners and don’t be surprised who lines up the first day of practice, first preseason game, third preseason game, first game of the season. It could all be different.”
To that end, the Bears signed five-time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson following veteran minicamp, a 34-year-old coming off an Achilles injury that cost him the 2013 season.
“We brought Adrian in for a workout. It was obvious he still has a very good burst, he still has a very good set of hands and he still wants to play football,” Emery said. “There’s no reason not to sign him, to put him in the competitive mix. Again, that position is wide open. If Adrian Wilson walks in here and he’s in football shape and can stay healthy, he can claim the job.”
Head coach Marc Trestman said he’s very excited about what Wilson brings to the table.
“We’re excited to have him. He’s been an outstanding player in this league for a very long time; one of the best to play this game. So we’re excited and hopeful that what we saw in the workout will transcend over the course of training camp,” said Trestman. “It’s an open competition back there. If he’s ready to go condition wise in terms of on a daily basis, obviously improve his condition, and practice effectively, then we’ll see where he’s at.”
In other injury news, Kyle Long will also start camp on active PUP due to a viral infection he contracted this past weekend.
“Kyle Long has suffered a viral infection,” Emery said. “He will not be available at the start of camp. He got hit over the weekend. He's lost a little strength because of it, obviously he's fighting through it. Won't be available through this weekend, he will be re-evaluated next week as to his status. We are encouraged, he is getting better, but wanted you to know he will not be available at the start of camp.
“He's progressing, he's doing well. He'll be here in camp on Thursday. It's not infectious. Kyle's feeling better. If it was left up to Kyle he would be out there. We're just going to be cautious, let him get the rest he needs, it's very important that he gets his rest so he can fully recover, that it doesn't come back.”
Rounding out the injuries, Matt Slauson and Jordan Mills, who both missed most of OTAs and minicamp, have been cleared to play and are ready to go. Craig Steltz (hamstring) should also be ready to participate during Friday’s first practice.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.