LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Don't expect newcomer Brandon Meriweather to help out much on special teams. The two-time Pro Bowl safety is expected to contribute on the field against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, but it will probably be on defense, not special teams, according to Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub.
"He does not play special teams," Toub said. "The only thing he did in his past was play on kickoffs, [but] he did that as a rookie. The last couple years he hadn't played special teams. He's probably not going to do that role. He needs to really focus on the defense. He's probably going to get some reps on there on defense this week. So he needs to focus on that."
Meriweather, who signed a one-year deal with the Bears after being released by New England, is expected to push starters Chris Harris and Major Wright for playing time at safety. The former first-round pick recorded 12 interceptions over the past three seasons for the Patriots.
Meanwhile, Toub's focus is preparing four rookies to play on special teams on Sunday. That's a large number of new faces to coach up, even though special teams undergoes turnover on a fairly regular basis.
"We've got a lot of young players," Toub said. "We're going to be a work in progress as the season goes. I'm excited about the group. I think they are very enthusiastic, good athletes. I'm looking forward to it."
At least the Bears have plenty of experience in the return department, despite Danieal Manning leaving for the Houston Texans in free agency. Toub said he was pleased with the Johnny Knox's kickoff returns in the preseason, and that the Bears have a few options in the punt game in the event the Bears decide to spell Pro Bowler Devin Hester during the regular season.
"Johnny looked pretty good on punt return. He did a good job the whole preseason," Toub said. "We still have Earl [Bennett], he's our No. 2 punt returner, but Johnny is right there with him. Devin [Hester] is the best returner in the game, so we're going to play Devin a lot."