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Chicago Bears Safety Preview: Is Brock Vereen on the bubble?

Yesterday we looked at the cornerbacks for the Chicago Bears, so today we'll finish up the defensive secondary and focus on the roster battle that is brewing at the safety position.

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The new GM, scouts and coaching staff of the Chicago Bears identified a need at the safety position and they addressed it in free agency relatively quick. By signing 11 year veteran Antrel Rolle, the Bears hope to stabilize a position that hasn't been much to talk about since 2010. That year saw Danieal Manning playing some good, solid football and Chris Harris being named 2nd Team All-Pro.

I think the 2015 version of the Bears would just like to have some competent play from their starting safeties for a change, and it looks like a veteran duo of Rolle and holdover Ryan Mundy are ready to give the Bears just that.

Roster locks

With Charles Tillman gone to Carolina, Rolle - a former captain with the New York Giants - will assume a leadership position in the Bears secondary. He has the experience, a Pro Bowl resume, and a Super Bowl ring that gives him instant credibility for a D that needs it.

Rolle also has a history with Mundy from their time in New York, and that may give the 7 year vet a leg up to win the other safety position. Mundy led the Bears in tackles last year, and he was arguably their best tackler as well.

Fifth round pick Adrian Amos split time at corner and safety in college, but seems to be locked in at safety with the Bears. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has used a safety/corner tweener type as his nickelback in the past, so I suppose that option is on the table. It's also worth noting that Amos is the only safety on the roster that is listed as a free safety.

A good bet to make it

When Amos was drafted his skill set immediately reminded me of last year's rookie 4th rounder, Brock Vereen. He's another safety that played some corner in college, but unlike Amos, Vereen actually has some nickelback experience as a pro.

I personally haven't seen enough of him at nickel to make a determination on a future fit, but judging by many of the comments in our threads the last year, some of you guys really liked what you saw from his 15 total snaps out of the slot. I'm not sure what some of you guys saw in those 15 snaps, but I'm sure we'll have some pro-Vereen-to-nickel fans tell us all about it.

All kidding aside, I do think Vereen has the athleticism to stick on the roster and to possibly push Mundy for playing time.

On the bubble

During the 2013 and 2014 seasons Fangio's 49ers carried 5 players at safety and John Fox's Broncos went with 5 in 2013, but Denver only carried 4 last year. The versatility of Vereen and Amos could come into play with how many safeties they keep, but those are still two young players, so it's yet to been seen how much trust the coaches will place in them.

If youngsters Amos and Vereen both stick, then they may want to go with a veteran back up like Sherrod Martin as a 5th safety. The 30 year old Martin started 20 games for head coach John Fox when they were both in Carolina, so there is a history there. In five seasons he has 38 starts in 72 career games and 8 interceptions.

I find it interesting that undrafted free agent Anthony Jefferson is the only safety listed on the roster as a strong safety, because his collegiate career mirrored that of Amos and Vereen. Jefferson also bounced around between safety and corner at UCLA. His timed speed isn't as good as those two drafted players (only a 4.72 forty), so perhaps the Bears want to keep him away from playing centerfield.

Malcolm Bronson will try to stand out on special teams, plus he has an uncle that played in the NFL so he has that whole bloodline thing going for him.

How many safeties do you think the Bears hold onto?