The Chicago Bears have announced that last year's starting free safety, Chris Conte, underwent shoulder surgery in late March. The timetable for his return is between four and five months.
This could be why the Bears loaded up on the position in free agency by bringing in M.D. Jennings, Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray, and why they re-signed Craig Steltz.
Recently head coach Marc Trestman gave his support to Conte.
"I like Chris," he said at the NFL owner's meetings in Orlando, "because I know he loves football and I know he wants to work to be a good player. I know he's a good teammate.
"I watched him during the season. We're going to do everything we can to help him get back on his feet, so to speak, and move forward.
"Players have done it before. He's going to be in a position to compete for a position as safety on our football team. We're going to give him the opportunity to do that."
Conte had a rocky 2013 season that was capped off by his blown coverage in the division clinching week 17 Packers game.
He had a career high in interceptions with three and in tackles with 95 last year, but he had a much better all around year in 2012. The Bears are hoping that, with a better front seven, their safety play will pick up.
There's also a possibility the Bears address safety in the draft.
Conte spoke with ChicagoBears.com about his surgery and his standing on the team.
"I know I'm going to have to compete for my position on this team," Conte said. "I am prepared to do that and felt having this surgery was the best way to be 100 percent healthy and be the best player I can possibly be."
"Whenever you don't have a good season you do some soul searching," Conte said. "You find the reasons why you love the game. Competition is a big part of why I love playing football. I knew they would be bringing in players to compete. It doesn't bother me. It will only make me better."
Have you already written off Chris Conte, or do you think he can bounce back in 2014?