<
>

If Wright is healthy, moves could come

The Bears have been impressed with the play of Major Wright. Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- If history is any indicator, the Chicago Bears secondary is about to be shaken up.

When it comes to defensive backs, Lovie Smith has never been afraid to make changes before the season, during the season or after the season.

The first tweak became obvious last weekend against Oakland when D.J. Moore opened the game at nickel over Corey Graham, a talented player still searching for a permanent role.

But just because Moore passed up Graham, it's not like the 2009 fourth-round draft choice has wrapped up the nickel job. If the Bears decide to make a move at safety, it's highly possible Danieal Manning could return to his old spot.

"I think it's going OK, but I think a lot will be determined on how I play in this game right here [versus Arizona]," Moore said Thursday. "I don't know how the coaches feel about it. There are so many [possible] combinations, I just don't know.

"It's like a one-game thing I'm guessing. I did pretty good the first two games, so if I do good [Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals], I guess I can convince them. But who knows?"

Many expect Manning to be on the move simply because the coaching staff can't stop raving about rookie safety Major Wright. If Wright recovers from finger surgery in time to be medically cleared for the regular season opener, he could be in the starting lineup.

Currently, Wright is being held out of any contact in practice, but he can still improves during these workouts, according to Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

"[He can work on] his keys, your eyes, your eye progression, your footwork," Marinelli said. "You can get calls, know where you're supposed to be, and [improve] reactions. Just like we do in OTAs without hitting. Same thing."

"Except for the contact work, we don't have him in tackling drills or anything like that, he's working the seven on seven [passing drills]," Smith added. "He's able to do anything that requires him to use his lower body."

If Wright is up to speed and can start, they Bears could move veteran Chris Harris up to strong safety, and make Wright the free. Obviously, the Bears feel the spots are interchangable, and now so does Harris, after saying his preference was to play strong safety when he first arrived in Chicago via trade in the offseason.

"I really don't care," Harris said. "In this system, it doesn't matter if you have an 'F' in front of [safety] or an 'S' in front of [safety]. I don't have a preference, it doesn't bother me one bit."

Put labels aside. What the Bears need to find are two safeties with both smarts and instincts.

Wright may be that guy.

"It's good for him to be able to sit back on the sidelines right now, and not worry about playing, just kind of watch the other guys out there," Smith said. "We got some good work done with him and in time we'll have him back out there.

"We've seen enough from him to really like him, though."