The 2013 season allowed Forte to tote the pigskin 289 times for 1339 yards. Good for a 4.6 YPC (2nd best mark of his career). He even managed to dispel the myth that he couldn't finish his runs and managed to find paydirt a career high, nine times. Along with his work on the ground he also continued his prowess in the aerial game. Hauling in 74 receptions for 594 yards and another three touchdowns.
Therefore it's pretty much as set in stone as something can be in the NFL world that Matt Forte is the undisputed starter. 2nd string is also relatively secured, though Phil Emery would have you believe differently. If you paid attention to the training camp press conference. Essentially leading all to believe that both back-up roles are open competition. Even though, they apparently adore 4th round pick Ka'Deem Carey and believe he's a steal of sorts. So it can't really be both ways.
Ka'Deem Carey was the 1st of the pair of 4th rounders the Chicago Bears ended up having and with good reason. He lead the nation in rushing during the 2012 NCAA season and was very productive this passed season averaging 5.4 YPC and 1,885 yards rushing. He probably would've gone higher if it weren't for two big knocks. He played in a Rich Rodriguez's system as a Wildcat. Known for putting up high yardage, high usage backs; think Steve Slaton in his time at WVU. Couple the system knock with his less then stellar 40 yard dash time of 4.69 seconds and you have the reasoning for his stock falling.
Regardless it seems as though the Bears have found their back-up and possible Forte replacement with the former Wildcat stud. Even if he's only able to take Forte's load down by 10-15% that should still allow for sufficient rest and early work for Carey. Safe to say he's penciled in as 2nd string.
Now, for the fun part. 3rd string running back. Last season the 3rd stringer was LSU Tiger Michael Ford. Ford didn't really see much time with the likes of Forte' and the now departed Michael Bush. Registering four Special Teams tackles and five returns. The latter showing what could make him stick. There's an open competition for the return job and given his return experience and pre-season return touchdown, he's more thank likely to be considered the front runner for the 3rd string job.
Along with Ford are a couple others competing for the last spot. Senorise Perry from Louisville. Who earned a contract to compete in training camp after being a rookie mini-camp invite. The kid from Mt. Greenwood and Mount Carmel alum, Jordan Lynch. Along with Shaun Draughn.
It's hard to fight the fan fair that Lynch receives being that he's from the area, was a Heisman Trophy Finalist in his senior season for the NIU Huskies. A dual threat as a Husky he ran for 1,920 yards and 23 TDs on 292 carries. While completing 62.6% of his 404 attempts for 2,892 yards and 24 TDs. Impressive to say the least.
However, he's never played running back, ever. He's also never played special teams. He may have the most "talent" of the four men competing for the final spot, but he also faces the biggest uphill battle. He needs to prove he can actually play in a pro style offense. Take hand-offs and catch the football at the very least. Not to mention he also has to prove his worth on special teams (all four phases). Possibly even prove he can return kicks given his adept ability to run in open field.
Needless to say he faces an uphill battle. Though given his work ethic and actual sheer football talent, I have no doubt he's already made significant strides and will continue to do so in, Bourbonnais.
Thus, bringing final thoughts on the running back depth chart as follows;
1. Matt Forte
2. Ka'Deem Carey
3. Jordan Lynch
Inevitably, I do believe Lynch proves his worth and enough to make the roster. However, do NOT expect gadget offense plays or Wildcat formations. Not right away at least and possibly not ever.