Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported on Twitter today that Chicago Bears safety Brandon Hardin will soon be placed on injured reserve, ending his 2012 season. Hardin suffered a neck injury trying to make a tackle in the team’s second preseason game against the Washington Redskins.
Biggs: “#Bears will place 3rd round draft pick S Brandon Hardin on injured reserve a week after he suffered neck injury last Saturday vs. Redskins.”
The Bears selected Hardin out of Oregon State in the third round of this year’s draft. A cornerback in college, he missed his entire senior season with a shoulder injury. Despite his injury history and having never played safety, GM Phil Emery took a flier on a player with a lot of potential.
S Brandon Hardin
Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire
Hardin (6-3, 220) has the size of a safety with the cover skills of a corner. He also showed well as a tackler in college. He struggled with the position switch in training camp and the injury will likely make that transition even more difficult when he returns next season.
Hardin was one of four safeties presumed to make the 53-man roster this year heading out of training camp. Losing him leaves Major Wright, Craig Steltz and Chris Conte, who is also currently on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Conte said he plans on returning by Week 1 when the Bears take on the Indianapolis Colts, although the team has not confirmed that timeframe.
Second-year player Anthony Walters spent time with the backups yesterday against the New York Giants and played well. He tipped a pass attempt in the end zone to Isaiah Frey, who pulled down the interception to seal Chicago’s 20-17 victory. He’s currently in line to replace Hardin.
That is if the team doesn’t bring in a veteran safety. Vaughn McClure of the Tribune reported yesterday the Bears are interested in former Packers safety Charlie Peprah, who was cut by Green Bay last month. Peprah (5-11, 203) started 14 games in 2011 and had five interceptions. The seven-year veteran has 26 career starts.
He reportedly failed a physical at the start of training camp this year, presumably related to the arthroscopic knee surgery he had in the offseason, which led to his release. The Bears want to make sure the knee is healed before pursuing him any further.
Chicago is short on experience at the safety position. Wright has 11 career starts, Conte has nine and Steltz has just seven. At this point, bringing in an established veteran becomes priority No. 1 for a secondary that finished 28th against the pass last season.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.