OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders beats Chris Conte #47 of the Chicago Bears to the goal line for a three yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum on November 27, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
In addition to the players the Bears just recently added in the last couple of months, there's also the players added in recent years that can also improve to help the team get better overall. This weekend, we'll take a look at a few of the players added in a couple recent drafts and their prospects to improve the team. And we'll get under way this morning with second-year safety Chris Conte.
When Conte was drafted in the third round last season, the pick was pretty largely derided, mostly because he was a relatively unknown quantity that was hardly on the Bears' radar (and this despite Lester's later reports that Conte was drafted about where he was mocked). But when he was pressed into action last year due to Major Wright's injury and Brandon Meriweather's ineffectiveness, he performed pretty decently, and upon Chris Harris' release started every game until his season-ending foot injury against Seattle.
So heading into 2012, Conte gets a chance to build off of last season, as he'll pretty much have a starting spot out of the gate if the foot holds up. But what does he need to do to improve?
He's a hitter, but he missed too many tackles last year, and needs to finish the tackle, or at least bring the ball carrier down. And his ball skills just weren't there - one interception and two deflected passes. But the statistics will come in time, as generally, his coverages are where they need to be and his instincts are fairly good. It'll be largely a matter of if he's able to work with his tackling - some players just don't - and of being able to stay in position and make the hard stop.
What's your outlook for Conte heading into the 2012 season? Will he build off his 2011 season, or will he take a step back?