Conte looks to bounce back from sluggish 2013

BOURBONNAIS ­- On his second day back at practice after shoulder surgery on March 26, safety Chris Conte picked off a Jordan Palmer pass intended for Josh Bellamy in the red zone and sprinted the length of the field to the cheers of fans.

Conte didn't hear much of that last season. He and the defense suffered through a down season, for which he received much of the criticism.

"People like to blame, so they blame," defensive backs coach Jon Hoke said. "I'll just leave it at that."

Conte is playing catch up, as he competes for playing time with a gaggle of challengers, so the practice pick was a big step.

"Good for him," coach Marc Trestman said. "He was excited to be out (here). He's waited a long time to practice. He's had a lot on his mind. It's nice that he can just go out and play; a good start for him."

Hoke says Conte is in no danger of being the forgotten man, even though he was unable to participate in the off-season program and missed the first two weeks of training camp.

"Chris has a history," Hoke said. "In 2012 he was a very good player. He had a rough year last year. We know what he can do, we've seen him play very well, and that helps him that he does have a history here. We'll just see how it plays out. He'll get enough snaps so we'll be able to evaluate where he's at."

Team trainers have not yet decided if Conte will be cleared to play in Thursday's second preseason game.

Moving pieces:

Even though No. 3 quarterback Jimmy Clausen played extremely well in his first preseason game as a Bear (134.6 passer rating, including 2 TD passes), coach Marc Trestman said he has not officially moved past Jordan Palmer on the depth chart.

But Trestman didn't rule out flip-flopping the order in which Palmer and Clausen follow starter Jay Cutler on Thursday night. In the opener, Palmer, who also put up solid numbers (94.5 passer rating) succeeded Cutler and was followed by Clausen.

"I don't think we've had any movement there at all," Trestman said of the QB depth chart. "That doesn't mean we won't switch them up this week and give Jimmy an opportunity to go first after Jay. We haven't made that decision yet.

"But it still isn't necessarily Jimmy moving into the second slot. (As with) all other positions, we'll move people around, we'll see how they play in different environments. and we'll make a decision when we have to."

First things first:

No player on the Bears' 2014 defense is known more for his pass-rushing expertise than defensive end Jared Allen, who has more sacks (128.5) since he entered the league in 2004 than anyone in the NFL.

But Allen, back at practice for a second straight day after missing time to be with his wife for the birth of their second daughter, says sacking the quarterback isn't the focus in the D-line meeting room.

"It starts with stopping the run," the five-time Pro Bowler said. "You can want to rush the passer all day, but if you're never in those situations, then you're never going to get the opportunity to put that on film.

"We're trying to build all-around players. In this league, D-line guys are only judged by how many sacks they have, when fortunately, there's a lot more to it than just getting after the quarterback. You have to set yourself up to get into those situations. That's what we're working hard at in our room."

Injury update:

Linebacker Lance Briggs (coach's decision) did not practice Monday.

Offensive linemen Jordan Mills (foot), Eben Britton (hamstring) and Brian de la Puente (knee sprain) remained out, as did cornerback Isaiah Frey (hamstring) and wide receiver Chris Williams (hamstring).

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