The Bears let go of two veterans with both moves creating opportunity for Michael Ford.
The release of backup running back Michael Bush opens up a competition behind starter Matt Forte that Ford should be involved in. The Bears' decision to let kick returner Devin Hester leave as a free agent also opens that job up for the second-year man out of LSU.
Although he had a strong showing at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine and averaged over 5.5 yards per carry during his career at LSU, Ford went undrafted and signed with the Bears.
Ford was seen as a bit of a project because he wasn't used much between the tackles at LSU. He ran hard for the Bears in preseason last year, although it was clear he was still a work in progress.
He led the team with 149 rushing yards and added eight catches for 65 yards in preseason. His 3.8 yards per carry weren't anything to brag about, but that had a lot to do with the third- and fourth-string offensive lines he was running behind.
The fact that the Bears didn't bother adding a veteran to the mix at running back is a pretty good indication that they feel good about Ford's ability. It's widely expected that they'll add competition to the mix at some point, but it could end up being a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent.
Ford's greatest value to the team could come as a kick returner, where he figures to battle for the starting gig. He had a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown last preseason, averaging over 33 yards per return. Even if you took his longest return out of the equation, he averaged 26.8 yards per kick return.
Even if he doesn't win the job as the starting kick returner, there's a good chance he'll contribute elsewhere on special teams.
It has become clear the Bears are going to give Ford every chance to have more of an impact in 2014.