Chicago Bears Say They Won't Add a Veteran Running Back

Eddie GriffinSenior Analyst IJune 19, 2008

Once the Chicago Bears cut loose Cedric Benson, many thought it was a foregone conclusion that the team would sign a veteran free-agent to compete with rookie Matt Forte for the starting job.

Yet, coach Lovie Smith dismissed that notion, saying the likes of Shaun Alexander, Travis Henry, Ron Dayne, LaMont Jordan (expected to be cut), or Kevin Jones are not on the team’s radar at the moment.

“We don’t have any plans to do that,” Smith said. “From Matt, to Adrian Peterson, Garrett Wolfe, P.J. Pope, and Matt Lawrence, we like all of our players, and those are the ones that we’re going with.”

Peterson and Wolfe averaged a combined 3.3 yards per carry last season as Benson’s backups. Pope spent last year on the practice squad, and Lawrence is an undrafted rookie out of powerhouse Massachusetts (yes, that’s sarcasm).

That’s not to say that the Jones, the former Lion, is giving up hope. He sent a personal workout CD to the team to show he is fully recovered from an ACL injury.

“Maybe that’s their plan right now, but things happen; changes are made all the time,” Jones said. “I’m still open-minded. No team shows all its cards. We’ll see what happens in the future.”

Forte, a second-round pick out of Tulane, who rushed for 2,127 yards in his senior season, has been touted as an every-down back and reportedly has looked great during offseason workouts—but that’s quite a different animal from the NFL regular season.

“We liked (Forte) coming in,” Smith said. “He hasn’t disappointed us at all. We feel real good about where he is. I feel like he’ll meet the challenge.”

The Bears are considering going with a rookie running back to go with two new starting receivers, and the best of two unproven quarterbacks in Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton. Let’s just say many don’t expect Chicago to improve upon its No. 27 offensive ranking from last year.