- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte came off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday, and revealed he’s put together a list of his own in prepping to fight for one of the club’s two open spots at the position.
Conte practiced for the first time Sunday since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
“It feels good to be back playing football,” Conte said. “I’ve got a list. There’s a lot of things I want to do, and a lot of people I want to prove wrong. There’s a lot of goals I have, a lot of things that I’m looking forward to. But I’m taking it one day at a time.”
Conte took repetitions with the first-, second- and third-team defense, with most of his snaps coming with the No.2s. Conte missed the club’s entire offseason conditioning program after undergoing shoulder surgery which also kept him out of organized team activities and minicamps.
During that time and through the first 11 practices of training camp, players such as Danny McCray, rookie Brock Vereen, Adrian Wilson and Ryan Mundy may have leapfrogged Conte on the depth chart. But with the staff maintaining the position remains a wide open competition, Conte believes he’s returned in time to make a real push for a starting job.
“I’m gonna do everything I can to get back on the field and that’s all I know,” Conte said.
All he knew throughout the offseason, however, was intense criticism. Conte seemed to bear the brunt of the blame for the demise in 2013 of Chicago’s defense, which experienced a sharp decline from the previous season due to a combination of injuries and substandard play.
Conte ranked third on the defense with 95 tackles, and tied for second with three interceptions. However, he experienced well-documented issues on the field, including playing the wrong coverage on a late fourth quarter Randall Cobb touchdown in the Bears’ Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers that kept the team out of the postseason.
“We’ve seen him play at a high level. We’ve seen him do very good things," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "He’s got to do it consistently. He’s got to know where to get lined up and the things we’re doing defensively. Certainly the athleticism is there to compete with anybody on the back end.”
The play against Green Bay and Conte's subpar 2013 campaign led to “a lot of soul searching” in the offseason, he said, “a lot of time focusing on myself physically and mentally. It was a good time for me to get better in a lot of different areas. Hopefully I’m a better person and a better football player. I learned to keep people close to me that I care about and to always know the people that support me are the only people that really matter. I’m not even thinking about last season. I’m thinking about this year. I don’t even know what happened last season.”