Marion Barber is more important than some may realize.

Marion Barber is more important than some may realize.

Marion Barber more than likely will not play on Sunday in the Bears season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. The calf injury he sustained in week 3 of the preseason against the Tennessee Titans still has not healed. According to the Bears coaches and medical staff, Barber is still unable to run full sprints, and is still dealing with pain in that calf.

The Bears are playing this one smart by keeping Barber off the field until he is fully healed. However, if this injury becomes prolonged it will hurt the Bears in the long run. Matt Forte is the feature back of this team, no question. But there will be times where Matt Forte will need a water break. This is why Marion Barber was brought in. Kahlil Bell is a solid back in his own right, after all he is the reason why both Chester Taylor and Garrett Wolfe are no longer in Bears uniforms.

But Bell is a speed back and a contributor on special teams. Marion Barber is the type of running back that can help a starter keep his fresh legs. And he does so by grinding out the hard yards, taking on tacklers, and absorbing the punishment that goes with running between the tackles. Barber is a combination of speed and power, he also has strength and durability.

And you can quote me on this, I also think he takes hits better than Forte does. Don't let this current injury fool you, Barber is a machine. Barber can also contribute to the passing game when needed. He is fully capable of being a starting back in the NFL, but he has made his career off of being the spark off the bench.

Barber has never had a 1,000 yard season in his career. The closest he came was in 2007 when he gained 975 yards on the ground. That year he had the bulk of the workload due to injuries to the other backs on the Dallas Cowboys at the time. But aside from 2007, during his time in Dallas he shared the load with multiple running backs.

He shared the load with guys such as Julius Jones, Anthony Thomas, Tashard Choice, and Felix Jones. They rotated the backs on the roster so every time Dallas would run the ball, each back would be fresh. The Bears now have this capability with Marion Barber III on the roster. He's the guy that's gonna give Matt Forte a chance to rest and the Bears will still have an effective running game.

Barber will also be used as a goalline/short yardage back. His strength and power will help him plow through defenses in those situations. This attribute is what Chester Taylor and Garrett Wolfe lacked when they were with the Bears. The Bears haven't had a solid back to use in those situations since the Thomas Jones era.

While Matt Forte has converted his own share of short yardage first downs and touchdowns, he has depended solely on the offensive line for those accomplishments. When the o-line missed blocks or couldn't clear holes for Forte in those situations, Forte didn't always get the job done. Barber can hold his own in those type of situations, especially if the o-line slips up.

Best example I can give you on that is in the week 2 preseason game against the New York Giants. It was late in the 4th quarter, and it was 4th and Goal from the 3 yard line. Caleb Hanie handed the ball off to Marion Barber, every person made their block except Johan Asiata {who ended up getting cut}. Asiata was pulling from his left guard position, and completely missed a linebacker who snuck past the offensive line.

That Giants linebacker {Who's name I forgot}, hit Barber 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage. But Barber's strength and perseverance kept him pushing forward and he just missed the goalline by one inch. If that was Matt Forte, he most likely would have gone down right then and there or maybe gotten back to the line of scrimmage.

This is what the Bears will be missing on Sunday. So Matt Forte will have a bigger role than what the Bears had planned for, and I'm sure he'll deliver for the most part. And should Kahlil Bell be called upon, he will need to show the flare that he had in the preseason. Again, this is nothing against Matt Forte... I'm just making my point that Marion Barber is more important to the Bears than you may realize.

And should Barber miss significant playing and practice time, the Bears may have to adjust if not change their approaching to the running game. If that ends up being the case, this could hurt the Monsters of the Midway later in the season. Marion Barber I pray for your healing amigo, Dios Te Bendiga.

You can follow me anytime on Twitter @GabeSalgado82 or you can friend me on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/GabeSalgado82

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    Gabe Salgado

    Aside my columns for The Locker Room, I also write for Bleacher Report, Chi City Sports, Midway Madness and Football Nation. I'm also a sports reporter for Rivet News Radio. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82

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