Conte could start camp on PUP

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte could start training camp on the physically unable to perform list when the team reports to Bourbonnais in July, but general manager Phil Emery expects him to be available for the exhibition opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Conte underwent shoulder surgery on March 26, and his timeline for recovery is four to five months.

"Yes, he may be on PUP [to start training camp]," Emery said. "But in terms of that first preseason game, we expect him to be [ready]. Obviously we're talking about a healing and rehab process. It's always a little bit of a non-predictor, but our best-guessed estimate and medical evidence would say that he'll be ready for the first preseason game."

Conte injured the shoulder last season, but played through the discomfort, and started all 16 games. Conte racked up 95 tackles, which ranked No. 3 on the team, and he tied for second on the team in interceptions (3).

But Conte struggled, leading the team to rethink the safety position for the upcoming season.

A source familiar with the situation told ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson that Conte's surgery was "long overdue". Conte started off the rehabilitation process in the middle of April, and he'll likely miss the club's entire offseason program.

Conte has appeared in 45 games with 40 starts in three seasons with the Bears after being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft out of California.

Emery said Conte's decision to undergo surgery stemmed from discomfort during training for the upcoming season.

"He started training and he just didn't feel right," Emery said. "He had it examined. It went through a decision-making process, and he made a decision to go ahead and have it done. [I'm] happy that he'll be ready for camp and expect good things out of him."

Emery expressed a desire to see Conte bounce back in 2014 when he discussed the free safety's future at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Conte enters the final year of his original rookie contract.

It's expected the team will use a draft pick to select a safety. The Bears have hosted Washington State's Deone Bucannon and Louisville's Calvin Pryor for pre-draft visits at Halas Hall.

"I think the No. 1 thing for Chris making improvements is Chris himself," Emery said. "I'm not counting on other guys getting better to help another player improve. It's on them each individually, and obviously collectively. If we improve individually, we'll improve as a group.

"Chris knows he has to come in and compete to start. My vision for him is that he does compete and win it. I'd love to be talking to him about an extension. So let's see what he does."