Chicago Bears' roster projection: running back

Chicago Bears' roster projection: running back
Kahlil Bell showed some flashes in 2011, but there may be one player on the roster capable of beating him out.

In today’s roster projection series, we’ll take a look at the running back position, and how I think the Chicago Bears’ RB depth chart will look on opening week.

Active RBs on the roster:

  • Armando Allen – Second-year player
  • Alvester Alexander – Rookie
  • Kahlil Bell – Four-year veteran
  • Michael Bush – Six-year veteran
  • Tyler Clutts – Second-year player
  • Matt Forte – Five-year veteran
  • Draylen Ross – Rookie
  • Harvey Unga – Second-year player

Projected Starter: Matt Forte

Fans should be relieved that Matt Forte came out and stated he will not hold out of any regular season games this year. Training Camp and preseason are a different story, but if there is one player on this team who I am confident will show up in shape—other than Brian Urlacher—it is Forte. He is arguably one of the better conditioned athletes in the league.

The improvement at the offensive skill positions should benefit Forte, who will likely see less eight- and nine-man fronts. For that reason alone, you can expect Forte to have one his better statistical seasons in 2012.

Projected Back-up: Michael Bush

The Bears have one of the better complimentary RBs in the league in Bush, who rushed for 977 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Bush gives the Bears a big power back who is hard to bring down once he gains full steam ahead.

Not only that, but Bush allows the offense to become less predictable because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.  If the offensive line can build off last season’s run blocking performance, we should expect Forte and Bush to both have great years in an a offense that will put an emphasis on rushing the football.

Projected 3rd-string: Armando Allen

When Tice was asked after an OTA practice to give his assessment on the RB position this year, Allen’s number—not Kahlil Bell’s—was mentioned as the guy who was impressing him the most in off-season practices. Allen is much smaller than the rest of the RBs on the roster, but in my opinion he’s the only one other than Forte who can make one cut and take it to the house for six. That is what separates Allen from Bell; the ability to be explosive in not only the run game, but as a receiver.

Overall analysis on RB position

Last year, the RB unit compiled over 2,000 yards on the ground with Matt Forte, Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell. The reason for optimism with this group is the upgrade in talent from Barber to Bush. Both guys are north-south power backs, and good fits in Tice’s man-blocking system. But Bush makes the offense less predictable because of his ability to be a receiver out the backfield.

The battle for the 3rd-string RB spot between Allen and Bell will be intriguing. I have Allen winning that spot simply because he’s a more explosive back than Bell, but at the same time you can’t go wrong with either player. Alvester Alexander and Harvey Unga have talent, and I can see either one making the practice squad. Like Allen, Alexander has the same explosive ability as a change-of-pace back, while Unga is more in the mode of a three-down back.

Although Tyler Clutts played a key role in the success of the run game last year and Draylen Ross performed well in OTAs, I don’t see a FB making the roster this year. Tice wants to utilize the F-Back position a lot in the offense, so I can see four or possibly five TEs making the roster.

Current Standing: Great

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  • No offense, but if five tight ends make the roster, I'll eat my shoe. Great read, though!

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