Inside Look: The Chicago Bears Running Backs

Inside Look: The Chicago Bears Running Backs
Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter on December 21, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Well, the Bears still have a star running back in Matt Forte.

Outside of Forte, the Bears have a group that isn't the most experienced, but is one that has plenty of potential.

In 2014, the Bears didn't run enough in games which played a large factor into their 5-11 record and Marc Trestman's firing. Also, quarterback Jay Cutler was put at the forefront of the offense when the team should have been running things through Forte early and often.

The Bears' backs combined to average 4.1 yards per carry ranking a respectable 16th overall, but finished 27th with just 90.1 yards per game.

Forte ended up with only three games with 20 or more carries and four games with 13 or less carries. Compare that to 2013 when he had six games with 20 or more carries and just two games with 13 or less attempts.

Not feeding one of the franchise's best backs is inexcusable. The 29-year-old comes into the 2015 season playing with one-year remaining on his deal and is an unrestricted free agent after the year.

He currently ranks second behind only Walter Payton in rush attempts (1,817) and rushing yards (7,704). He is also fourth in touchdowns (41).

Forte did finish with an NFL record 102 receptions in 2014 and 176 catches in two seasons under Trestman, but power run game needs to return.

Last year's fourth rounder Ka'Deem Carey, this year's fourth rounder Jeremy Langford, scatback Jacquizz Rodgers, veteran Daniel Thomas and special teamer Senorise Perry are all vying for the No. 2 spot behind the crafty Forte.

Here's an Inside Look at the current Bears running backs in the eighth installment of this series. You can read the previous story about the wide receivers.

Projected starter: Matt Forte

Forte - I can go on and on about all the things Forte brings to the table, but I would probably run out of space. This guy really gives it his all year in and year out. He's missed just four games due to injury in seven seasons with the Bears and has averaged 322 touches between runs and receptions. He is elusive at 6-foot-2 and gets up field fast whether it be on a stretch play or a screen pass.

He has become a better finisher over the past few seasons which is scary as he's totaled 10 plus touchdowns in back-to-back years. However, after averaging 4.4 yards per carry or better from 2010-13, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry in 2014.

You can bet Forte will be completely focused on being even better as he looks to earn another payday from the Bears.

In the mix: Jeremy Langford, Ka'Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers, Daniel Thomas, Senorise Perry

Langford -  This kid from Michigan State is my favorite of the five backups behind Forte. He had 2,967 yards on 577 carries (5.1 avg.) and 40 touchdowns in 50 collegiate games. The most impressive stat from Langford was that he compiled 18 career 100-yard rushing games, third most in Spartans history.

If he can become a solid run blocker than he could earn that No. 2 spot. Don't count out Langford winning that role and potentially being a future starter sometime soon.

Carey - The second-year man from Arizona was given very few chances as a rookie a season ago. He had only 41 touches (36 runs, five catches) in 14 games. He was effective on the ground rushing for 158 yards with an average of 4.4 yards per carry.

Carey ran the ball 14 times for 72 yards in a Week 4 loss to Green Bay, but outside of that he averaged just 1.5 carries a game. He could find himself having a very hard time earning a roster spot considering the new regime selected Langford this year in the draft. Carey will have to fight for a possible No. 2/No. 3 role.

Rodgers - Entering his fifth NFL season, Rodgers is a merely a scatback with solid pass catching ability. The 5-foot-6 Oregon State product averaged 38 catches for 276 yards and 76 carries for 279 yards with Atlanta. His best season came in 2013 when he had 673 yards and four TD's.

From 2012-13, Rodgers had over 90 carries and 50 receptions. He has the ability to make plays out of the backfield or as a gimmick receiver. Expect him to take on a similar role as well as a key special team spot after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the Bears this offseason.

Thomas - He earned a one-year deal with the Bears on June 18 after showing well at veteran minicamp on a tryout.

A 2011 second round pick, Thomas saw his most action as a rookie when he had 165 carries for 581 yards in 13 games with two starts. In those two starts, he totaled 202 rushing yards, the third-highest total by a Dolphins rookie in his first two games. From 2012-13, he scored 10 touchdowns, eight on the ground and two through the air.

He will have to impress to even have a prayer of claiming a roster spot. Thomas has played well in spurts, but fumbling and lack of effort ended his time in Miami and kept him on the free agent market for that long.

Perry - An undrafted free agent from Louisville, Perry appeared in all 16 games last year. He ranked first on the team in special teams tackles with 17. He had just one catch in the regular season, but in the preseason he totaled 21 touches for 86 yards and a touchdown (59 rushing yards, 43 receiving yards).

Perry also has the ability to return kickoffs as he took back three for 74 yards last preseason. His value on special teams will give him the edge over guys like Thomas and Carey and should ultimately earn him a roster spot.

Final Thoughts

Forte deserves to be locked up and finish his playing career with the Bears if he can bounce back on the ground this season. Langford is likely the back of the future with Carey on the fringe of the roster right now.

Thomas and Rodgers are two different kinds of backs, but both need to prove a lot in camp to stay around, while Perry's special teams value alone will likely keep him on the team.

The backs are improved this season with so much competition and with offensive coordinator Adam Gase plenty of guys could earn key roles behind Forte.

Next up: Quarterbacks

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