Second-year S Chris Conte could give the Chicago Bears secondary more opportunities to gamble.

The Bears' signature defense remains Lovie Smith's Cover-2, but they put one safety closer to the line and one back last year more often than in the past.

"Just being a young guy and not knowing the defenses well, it was a lot easier to just stick me in the middle of the field," Conte said. "This year I think we can do a lot more with me and do a lot more on the defensive side of the ball."

The day when the Bears do something different than play a lot of zone coverage will be the day Smith is no longer head coach. His love for the Cover-2 zone is well documented. But it wouldn't be surprising if they disguised defenses more and even blitzed safeties occasionally with more experienced players in back.

"We try to disguise a lot," SS Major Wright said. "But that does put a lot of pressure on our corners. And we know that. So we know we have to come up with better techniques of holding our disguises."

Regardless of alignment and tactics, using Conte and Wright together solidified the secondary somewhat last year, as the numbers showed. The Bears allowed 12.4 fewer yards, 14 fewer TD passes (18-4), and their defensive passer rating was 16.9 points lower (68.9 to 85.8) when those two started six games as opposed to the 10 games someone else started.

Just having stability could help in the back, as well. Since Smith became coach, the Bears have switched players at the starting safety spots more than 50 times. Much of it has to do with injuries.

As recently as last year, they dumped Chris Harris after the team had reacquired him, and the previous year failed sixth-round draft pick Al Afalava got sent packing.

Ultimately the young safeties know they have to continue that trend of effective play established last year, and do something else they didn't do -- make interceptions. 

Only four of the 20 picks they had last year came from a safety.

"In the secondary we can be around the ball more, create more turnovers as safeties and help our offense score more points," Conte said. 

Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLCHI.