Bears put Conte, Podlesh on notice

Bears decision makers this morning said safety Chris Conte and punter Adam Podlesh, both of whom struggled in 2013, will have to compete for their jobs next season.

The Chicago Bears were historically bad on defense last year. Injuries played a big role in the club's collective futility but players are still being held accountable, particularly the safeties. Major Wright is a free agent and isn't likely to return. Chris Conte is entering the final year of his rookie deal and the team is still holding out hope he can turn his career around.

"We've texted significantly over the last month," head coach Marc Trestman said this morning at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. "He's challenged by moving forward. He knows he's got to get better. He's working in any way he can at this point in time, working out and training, to get himself started. [Defensive Backs Coach] Jon Hoke's communicated with him even more than I am. I think that he knows he didn't play as well as he could play, he's moving forward, which is a good thing."

Conte has started 40 games his first three seasons in Chicago but GM Phil Emery said Conte will be forced to compete for his job during training camp this year. Emery wants Conte to come out on the winning end.

"Chris knows he has to come in and compete to start," Emery said. "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."

Also on notice is punter Adam Podlesh, who finished 33rd in the league last season in gross punting average. Emery said the starting punter job is "wide open" and Podlesh will compete with youngsters Tress Way and Drew Butler.

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is entering his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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