Positional Analysis

The Bears lost half of their starting secondary from a year ago. Starters Tony Parrish and Walt Harris were not re-signed and Mike Green and Jerry Azumah will be expected to replace the departed starters.

Parrish and Harris combined for ten years of experience and 23 interceptions. Green and Azumah have a total of two interceptions between them, so the Bears are taking gambling that the two are ready to be regulars.

Azumah was singed to a contract extension early last season, which signaled that Harris would not be re-signed. Harris remained the starter throughout the season, but Azumah contributed especially in the postseason. The 24-year-old converted running back picked off a Donovan McNabb pass and returned it 39-yards for a touchdown in the Bears 33-19 playoff loss to the Eagles.

In limited playing time Green had 68 tackles and three sacks. In the beginning of the season he moved ahead of Azumah as the third corner and started for Mike Brown at free safety when he went down with an injury. At this point Green will replace Parrish at strong safety and Brown will stay at his natural position of free safety.

Brown became a Pro Bowl caliber player, who has a knack for big plays. He led the team with five interceptions, two of which went for game ending overtime touchdowns. Brown was fourth on the team in tackles with 86 and had three sacks.

R.W. McQuarters emerged as the Bears shutdown corner and was rewarded with a contract extension worth $21 million. He went to Platteville last season as the Bears third corner and played so well in the preseason that Dick Jauron moved him ahead of Thomas Smith, which made the multimillion-dollar free agent acquisition from 2000 expendable. Teams made a point to go away from McQuarters' side of the field, but he still had three interceptions and was third on the team in tackles with 89.

At this point the Bears lack experience backups, which is cause for concern. The Bears signed veteran safety Damon Moore, who started for the Eagles last season, but he will miss the first month of the season because of a knee injury he suffered in the NFC Championship game.

Chicago spent two draft picks on the secondary in cornerback Roosevelt Williams and safety Bobby Gray. However, the pair will expected to contribute mostly on special teams.

Reggie Austin will be asked to step this season and fill the nickel cornerback role. He will compete with Todd McMillon for that role. Larry Whigham, who made the Pro Bowl last season as a special teams player, is more of a tackler than a coverage guy. Leaving an opening for Than Merrill to make the squad as a backup safety.

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