BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Barring injury, the Bears are expected to open the regular season with Chris Harris and Major Wright as the starting safety combination, but Craig Steltz continues to quietly put together a solid training camp.
Steltz, entering the final year of his rookie contract, intercepted a pair of Caleb Hanie throws on Wednesday night while working on the second team alongside rookie Chris Conte.
Steltz and Conte are expected to receive significant playing time versus the Bills in the Bears preseason opener.
"He’s definitely showing up,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "But that's normally what he does in training camp, he makes plays. For whatever reason, he hasn't had an opportunity to play a lot in the regular season. [But] we notice him. That's what it's about. Not blending in. Making a few big plays for people to take notice."
A 2008 fourth-round draft choice, Steltz has primarily been a special teams contributor over the past three years, making a pair of starts at safety in 2009. With the club expected to keep 10 defensive backs during the regular season, Steltz appears to be a lock to make the 53-man roster.
"It's going well so far," Steltz said. "All I can do is compete every day and move on to the next one. That's really the whole point of training camp. I think [playing with Conte on the No. 2 unit] is going well. We work well together and I'm trying to teach him small things here and there, because he never had a chance to pickup that stuff in OTAs or offseason workouts."
It's unclear whether or not Steltz is in the Bears’ plans beyond 2011, but considering the constant turnover at the safety position the past several seasons, he may be called upon if one of the starters gets hurt.
"You have to always believe the opportunity is going to be there, that sooner or later you're going to get a chance," Steltz said. "If you ever lose sight of that, you won't be around when the opportunity comes. You always have to keep that thought in the back of your mind.
"It was the same process at LSU. LaRon Landry and a couple of other guys were there in front of me [at safety]. I really wasn't a full-time starter, I mean I had started a couple of times my sophomore and junior years, but I wasn't a full-time starter until my senior year. It's the same process. You just have to stay positive every day. Sometimes it's not easy, but you have to do it and continue to compete."
Last edited by soulman; 08-13-2011 at 01:27 PM.
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap.
Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.
Like the Bears always seem to do when we draft a safety, Steltz was talked up as being a potential starter. Now that Manning is gone we've got Harris and three unproven young players in Wright, Steltz and Conte.
This year is probably Steltz's best chance to make an impact. Whether or not he wins the battle to start alongside Harris, probably not given how much Smith etc have talked up Wright, he's going to have to step up at some point as the odds are against us going another 16 games with the same starting safeties.