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Chalk Talk


Who will Bears start at safety?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on

Who do you think will start at safety for the Bears this season?

John A.
Kansas City, Missouri

When Chris Conte returns from the shoulder injury he suffered in the Bears' second preseason game against the Redskins, I think he will start at free safety and be paired with Major Wright at strong safety. No timetable has been announced, but Conte has said that he expects to be back for the Sept. 9 season opener against the Colts. Versatile backup Craig Steltz has had an excellent training camp and preseason, and the Bears wouldn't lose anything if he had to step in and start, in my humble opinion. Injuries have been a problem at safety the last several years, and that seems to be the case again with third-round pick Brandon Hardin being placed on injured reserve Sunday after hurting his neck against the Redskins. Depth could be an issue given that the fourth safety right now appears to be untested second-year pro Anthony Walters.

How many receivers do you think the Bears will keep this year and who may be the odd man out?

Frank C.
Wheaton, Illinois

It's difficult to say whether the Bears will keep five, six or seven receivers on their 53-man roster. (Final cuts are due by 8 p.m. Friday.) A lot of it depends on how the reserves compare to backups at other positions in terms of how much they contribute on special teams. Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett and Eric Weems are virtual locks, which means that Rashied Davis and Dane Sanzenbacher could be battling for one roster spot. Interestingly, coach Lovie Smith on Sunday praised undrafted rookie Joe Anderson, who had an impressive 12-yard touchdown reception in Friday night's preseason win over the New York Giants.

How long do you think the starters will play Thursday night in Cleveland?

Bob G.
Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Bears coaches haven't revealed their plans, but most NFL teams play their starters very little if at all in the final preseason game. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bears didn't play some of their stars at all. But that doesn't mean there won't be some interesting things to watch: Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker possibly battling for the third running position, the receiver situation I discussed in my previous answer, and even whether rookie punter Ryan Quigley can have another good game.

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