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Chris Conte’s position coach shares blame, says Bears safety will be ‘fine’ after woeful year
After the Bears’ second day of mandatory mini-camp Wednesday, Jon Hoke continued what has become a coaching staff-wide trend, declaring his faith in injured safety Chris Conte after the worst season of his career.
“Chris will be fine,” the defensive backs coach said at the Walter Payton Center. “Chris will come back and I’m confident he’ll come back.
“I’ve been around Chris a long time. I’ve watched him through 2012 have a heckuva a year. …
“I just know he had impact in games. and I expect him to get back to that level.
“He’s shown he can do it. He needs to get back to it. We need to make sure he gets back to it. That’s our job as coaches.”
Asked what Conte needs to do to have the proper attitude once he returns from shoulder surgery, Hoke put the onus on the safety, whose missed coverage on Aaron Rodgers’ Week 17 touchdown pass sealed the Bears’ season.
“He needs to get in a good place,” Hoke said. “That’s him. He’s got to understand, this is my job. This is what I hired on to do. He’ll get there.”
Hoke shared the blame for his season.
“With Chris, I just know he had a rough go and it didn’t help him as a coach,” Hoke said. “I should have done a better job.
“I don’t know what it was. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I know when they play poorly, we’re not coaching them as good as we can.
“I was taught by (South Carolina coach) Steve Spurrier a long time (ago): ‘Play bad, coach bad.’ That’s just the way it is. We’ll get him back.”
Hoke said the secondary struggled in part because the Bears’ defensive line and linebackers were hurt.
“We had so many injuries up front — and I know you can’t use injuries as an excuse — and we didn’t handle that well in the back end,” Hoke said. “We should have made some adjustments. We should have played better. We did not do that.
“That falls on me as a coach. I take full responsibility for that. I wouldn’t put that on the player. I put that on me. so I have no problem with that. I know if we go back to 2012 when we were healthy.”
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker hopes so, too.
“I told Chris I can’t wait to get him out there,” Tucker said, “and he said he can’t wait to get out there.
“And that’s where we are.”