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Bears plan to rotate safeties Sunday

Assuming that Chris Conte is cleared to play in Sunday's season opener against the Bills, the Bears intend to have Conte, Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray share reps at the two safety positions.

"We're going to roll them in," coach Marc Trestman said Wednesday. "If Chris is up, we'll rotate the safeties. We'll rotate them between Ryan, Danny and Chris. Are we set on who's going to start? No. But I expect all three of them will play and Brock [Vereen] will get some work as well."

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The Bears signed former Steelers and Giants safety Ryan Mundy on the first day of free agency.
Conte was limited in practice Wednesday as he continues to recover from a concussion sustained Aug. 22 in a preseason loss to the Seahawks. The fourth-year pro is going through the final portion of his league-mandated protocol and could soon be cleared for Sunday's opener.

With Conte playing only part of one preseason game after missing the entire offseason program following shoulder surgery, conditioning could be a factor. But a main reason the Bears want to rotate their safeties is that Mundy and McCray both will play key roles on special teams.

"They are a big part of what we are special teams-wise and a big part of why they were brought in here [as free agents] was to not only have the opportunity to start but have the opportunity to play special teams," Trestman said. "So by rotating guys in we think we can keep them fresh and create an advantage special teams-wise as well."

The Bears signed Mundy on the first day of free agency March 11 and have not been disappointed.

The 6-1, 215-pounder has appeared in 80 games with 14 starts over five seasons with the Steelers (2009-12) and Giants (2013), registering 143 tackles, two interceptions, 10 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, five tackles-for-loss and one sack. Mundy has added 64 special-teams tackles, tied for third most in the NFL since he entered the league.

"When we got him we knew we got a guy who had a championship pedigree," Trestman said. "He's been in a couple championship locker rooms and I think that's a big advantage. He knows what a winning locker room feels like and looks like. He knows how to practice like champions practice and he does that every day.

"He's got a high level of performance expectations that he puts upon himself. He's smart. He's a great communicator and he's a sound football player. And I think we've seen that throughout training camp and the preseason. He's been in the right place at the right time and done a lot of really good things for us, and he's really going to benefit us on special teams as well."

Mundy's knowledge of the game has been evident to perennial Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs.

"Experience, I think that's the grandfather of all teaching," Briggs said. "He's savvy. He's going to continue to really grow in this defense. He's going to be relied on to be a playmaker."

Mundy was selected by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of West Virginia, and won a Super Bowl ring while on Pittsburgh's practice squad as a rookie.

Primarily a reserve during his four seasons with the Steelers, Mundy started 10 of 16 games played with the Giants last year, establishing career highs with 70 tackles and four tackles-for-loss while also recording two pass breakups and one fumble recovery.

While he would welcome the opportunity to play alongside Conte, Mundy will be ready to contribute regardless of who he's paired up with in the secondary.

"Chris is a veteran guy who has played a lot of football," Mundy said. "He has a ton of experience, a ton of athletic ability, and the great thing about this situation is we've all been in the same meeting room receiving the same coaching points.

"[But] before cuts we had a lot of veteran guys who played a lot of football. So it really didn't matter who was mixed and matched or who was paired with one another because we all understood how to work and prepare and play."

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