Originally written December 24, 2012 on Midway Illustrated:
With the injury to safety Chris Conte on Sunday, the Bears are in need of help at the safety position.  Safety Craig Steltz was already placed on the injured reserved list, ending his season leaving the Bears with only second year safety Anthony Walters and Major Wright to play the back end of the defense.   Now the question becomes where are the Bears going to find that safety depth?  Well the answer could have come in the form of rookie safety Brandon Hardin who suffered a minor neck injury during the preseason.   Hardin was drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft to be a safety, some had even thought he might supplant Major Wright.  While that didn't happen, as Hardin struggled in camp the question is why did Emery IR Hardin for the entire season?   The newly created eight game injured reserve recall gives the Bears the opportunity to recall a play from to come back and play after eight game.  Hardin has been healthy and ready to come back and contribute for quite some time.   Even knowing that Hardin was likely going to be readily available after the injury, GM Phil Emery sent Hardin to the season-ending IR.   The judgment to end his season prematurely is absolutely baffling given the safety spot is one of the hardest positions in the NFL to remain healthy.   Most notably safeties play one of the most physically demanding positions on the field with all the collision they're in.  But they also have to start stop and change direction at full speed more regularly than any other player on the field, leaving them vulnerable to the injury Conte suffered.   Conte's hamstring pull could keep him out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Vikings, but it could also risk his availability for the playoffs, if the Bears earn a spot.   Regardless of how much of a learning curve Hardin had in front of him at the time of his injury, the Bears now have a need.  A need that is so great that they are likely to struggle to find a player who is much better than Hardin.   Plus there is no better way to help his progress by getting him out there and playing him.  Hardin would now have had an entire season of practices under his belt in addition to some likely playing experience.   Instead Hardin is wasting away on the bench while GM Phil Emery scrambles to find some depth.  Critical depth that will need to be ready to play for the biggest game of the season.  The Bears now have to find a player who may have little to no experience in this system, and must now prepare to potentially play long minutes if the Bears are to suffer another injury in the secondary.   Yet another example of poor planning and foresight by a GM whose honeymoon period in Chicago is clearly over.
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