Bears Opt for Youth Over Experience in Secondary..................
Bears relying on youth in secondary
Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter 1:30 p.m. CDT, October 27, 2011
One of the obstacles to getting young players on the field can be veterans. From the sounds of things, that had at least something to do with the decision Thursday morning to release veteran safety Chris Harris.
The Chicago Bears are prepared to move forward with their third-round picks at the position -- Chris Conte from this year and Major Wright from a year ago.
“We’ve got guys that we drafted that we feel good about, young players,” secondary coach Jon Hoke said following a brief 45-minute practice. “We’re in a position to move forward.”
Obviously, the decision to let Harris go rises far above the level of a position coach, and Hoke was clear that he appreciated the time he spent with Harris in the last 1 1/2 seasons.
“Chris was an awesome player for us,” Hoke said. “I know from last season I learned a lot as a coach from him about the game.”
But Conte has impressed the coaches in starting the last two weeks and the Bears were pleased with Wright coming out of the Minnesota game before he injured his hip in practice last week. It was a minor injury and Wright practiced this week. He should be fully ready next week when the Bears return to work on Tuesday.
Hoke says he has no hesitation going with young players. Assuming Conte and Wright are in the lineup when the Bears play at Philadelphia Nov. 7, they’ll have six combined starts between the two of them when they’re asked to defend against a slippery deep threat like DeSean Jackson.
“We’ve started young players here before,” Hoke said. “We have no hesitation. We feel very comfortable with where we’re at with our young players and we feel good moving forward.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Brandon Meriweather, benched the last two weeks, re-enters the picture at some point. When? That’s hard to tell.
“He’s a good football player,” Hoke said. “He’s in the mix. He’s doing fine.”
Meriweather, signed to a $3.25 million, one-year contract, has arguably been a bigger disappointment than Harris when you match the contracts up side by side and use that as a gauge for expectations. But athletically Meriweather brings more to the position and with a little more time to settle into the scheme, the Bears are hopeful he can contribute.
For now, it looks like the plan will be to stay young and see what Conte and Wright can offer.
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