By Adam Hoge-

(CBS) — Bears safety Chris Conte already knew he would be competing for a job this offseason and that competition just got a lot tougher for him.

Conte underwent shoulder surgery in late March and will need four to five months to recover, the Bears announced Thursday. That would keep him out until sometime between late July and late August, a huge difference when you are competing for a job. Training camp starts in late July.

“I know I’m going to have to compete for my position on this team,” Conte told “I am prepared to do that and felt having this surgery was the best way to be 100 percent healthy and be the best player I can possibly be.”

Conte started all 16 games last season but struggled at times throughout the year. When free agency began last month, the Bears quickly picked up safeties Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to compete at the position. The team is also expected to draft a safety next month.

“Whenever you don’t have a good season you do some soul searching,” Conte told “You find the reasons why you love the game. Competition is a big part of why I love playing football. I knew they would be bringing in players to compete. I doesn’t bother me one bit. It will only make me better.”

But Conte will be behind in the competition from the start. He’ll miss OTAs and veteran mini-camp and, depending on his recovery, could miss part of training camp.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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