BEARS NOTES: Chris Conte dismisses pressure
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org October 27, 2011 10:54PM
Updated: November 29, 2011 8:30AM
On and off the field, rookie safety Chris Conte is learning quickly. The NFL is a business first.
‘‘I haven’t been here that long, so I don’t know a whole lot about it. But, yeah, that’s what it is [a shock],’’ Conte said when asked about the sudden release of veteran safety Chris Harris on Thursday. ‘‘It is a business, and they make business decisions. You can’t really have hard feelings about it. You just have to go with it and respect the fact that it is a business.’’
Harris’ release puts even more of a focus on Conte, a third-round draft pick from California whose ascension to the starting free safety spot made Harris expendable in the eyes of the Bears’ coaches.
‘‘I don’t think there’s any more pressure on me,’’ said Conte, who had a key interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week when he stole the ball from receiver Mike Williams at the goal line in the first quarter with the Bears leading 7-0. ‘‘I’ll have the same role I had before. Nothing really changes for me.’’
Conte said he learned a lot from Harris in the brief time they played together.
‘‘Tons of stuff,’’ he said. ‘‘Chris knew everything about this system and had tons of great information to share. So whenever I had questions, I’d always go to Chris and ask him about things.’’
The Bears claimed rookie linebacker Jabara Williams off waivers to replace Harris on the roster. The 6-2, 238-pound Williams was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. He played in two regular-season games for the Rams before he was waived. Williams played collegiately at Stephen F. Austin.
Arrow pointing up
Lovie Smith’s goal was to be 7-0 at the bye, but he feels as good about 4-3 as he can.
‘‘We’re a 4-3 team. That tells you exactly where we are,’’ he said. ‘‘But we feel like our arrow is pointed in the right direction. I think our best ball is ahead of us.
‘‘You want to start fast, but you want to finish strong. Finishing up this second quarter 3-1 [by beating the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 7] would be big for us.’’
Ode to Olin
Bears captain Roberto Garza turned melancholy when asked about former teammate Olin Kreutz, who left the New Orleans Saints last week because he had lost his passion for the game. Garza, who has kept in contact with Kreutz throughout the season, said he didn’t see it coming.
‘‘That’s a tough situation,’’ said Garza, who played next to Kreutz on the Bears’ offensive line for seven seasons. ‘‘He’s a dear friend. Football’s going to miss a hell of a football player. He brings a lot to the table, and I’m sure the Saints are going to miss his leadership and his ability to get the job done.’’