Bears likely to start Bullocks, Steltz at safety vs. Vikings

December, 24, 2009
CHICAGO -- A combination of injuries and ineffectiveness may force Lovie Smith to make yet another change at the safety position.

With Al Afalava (knee) and Kevin Payne (ankle) sidelined during practice week, Smith is leaning towards starting Josh Bullocks at free safety and Craig Steltz at strong safety Monday night versus Minnesota, according to league source.

Danieal Manning would be the Bears' emergency safety.

This would be the fourth start of the season for Bullocks, who opened up the game in San Francisco at free safety (although the Bears announced he was at strong safety), and was used as the team's third safety versus St. Louis and Green Bay. Steltz has been inactive the last four weeks.

Payne and Afalava both graded out very poorly after coaches reviewed film of the Baltimore loss, so a switch might have occurred even if the players were healthy this week.

Afalava, Payne, Adrian Peterson (illness) and Charles Tillman (personal reasons) all skipped Thursday's practice.

Devin Hester (calf) and Chris Williams (ankle) were limited.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.



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