BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – In the latest twist to the Chicago Bears’ “wide open” safety competition, fifth-year veteran Danny McCray handled all the first-team reps alongside Ryan Mundy on Wednesday, while rookie fourth-round choice Brock Vereen worked exclusively on the No. 2 defense.
A core special-teams contributor the last four years in Dallas (74 career special-teams tackles), McCray’s only real NFL experience on defense occurred in 2012, when he recorded 87 tackles and one interceptions in 10 starts for the Cowboys.
“It’s a big opportunity,” McCray said. “I think that’s what we are all here for. It’s open competition. They are just running people around to see what fits and who can make plays.”
The Bears have refused to anoint any starters at safety, citing it as an open competition. However, Vereen and Mundy spent almost the entire offseason program and the beginning of camp as the top duo until Bears head coach Marc Trestman met on the off-day (Tuesday) with his staff to evaluate the club after four practices in Bourbonnais.
“We wanted to take a look at [McCray],” Trestman said. “He’s been practicing well. We’ve said all along the safety position is wide open and we wanted to take a look at him with the first group today. We talked a lot about it yesterday. Like I said, like we’ve all said, I don’t think you should take any one day and start making decisions on who is playing that position, other than certainly the guys that we all know. But the safety position is wide open and Danny has worked to an extent that he gets a chance to get some work there, so that’s what we did today.
“No. 1, [McCray] been in the right place in terms of covering and terms of the run game. His effort level has been very high. He’s a highly intelligent football player. He’s played consistently and continued to ascend over the last few days and we wanted to get a look at him with the ones. That’s what we did today and we’ll see what the tape shows.”
To be clear: The Bears announced last week they planned to look at various combinations at several positions throughout the preseason. Just because Vereen ran with the second team on Wednesday doesn’t mean he won’t be back on the No. 1 unit in the near future.
“I feel like whoever I’m out there with, I’m worthy of making a play,” Vereen said. “I don’t care who is to my left and to my right. I’ve got a great group of guys around me that I’m going to give my top effort to.”
Meanwhile, veteran Adrian Wilson benefited from increased reps on Wednesday with Vereen on the second team. Up until Wednesday, the four-time Pro Bowl selection had been regulated to mostly the third team, where playing time is sporadic at best.