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Bears’ surprise safety starter: Danny McCray
BOURBONNAIS — The Bears added a new contender to their safety competition Wednesday, even if the coaching staff warned, as usual, not to read too much into a training camp practice in July.
After watching film during their off day, the Bears put Danny McCray, a free agent signee ticketed mostly for special teams, at the starting free safety position Wednesday.
He took the place of rookie Brock Vereen alongside Ryan Mundy. Vereen, who played both safety positions at Minnesota, spent most of minicamp with the first string.
McCray said he was excited about the promotion — he had played second-sting alongside M.D. Jennings with Craig Steltz and Chris Conte on the PUP list — but he wasn’t going to get ahead of himself.
“It’s Day 5,” he said. “So the excitement is not really there. It just know that I got a good opportunity to go out there and show what I can do.”
The Bears lived up to their promise to him — that the position was wide open.
“Everyone has an equal chance,” he said. “And they’ve shown that, throughout OTAs and minicamp. And it’s still showing here in training camp.”
The LSU alum spent his first four years in Dallas before signing a one-year deal to be reunited with special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis; he started 10 games in 2012, but none any other season.
“Danny brings a high level of energy to the game,” Mundy said. “He’s very active around the ball. He knows how to get the ball out, and that’s something we value here on our defense.”
McCray had been “practicing well,” Trestman said.
“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,” Trestman said at Olivet Nazarene University. “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.”
Vereen admitted to having “setbacks that a rookie would,” but said it’s no excuse.
“In my mind, I’m still a rookie who has to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster,” he said. “I’m far too young to even worry about starting, not starting, whatever.
“In my mind, I still need to prove I’m worthy of being on this team.”