The Chicago Bears Training Camp Preview: The Running Backs

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IJune 11, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 29:  Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears looks on during the 'Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year' press conference at the Tampa Convention Center on January 29, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Prior to last season, the Bears running game had been thrown into a state of flux thanks to what some call the Great Cedric Benson Experiment.

That experiment failed, and failed miserably, so heading into the 2008 NFL Draft the Bears were faced with the task of drafting a top-of-the-line running back to help fix the void that was created.

In the second round of that year’s draft, the Bears drafted running back Matt Forte out of Tulane, and the rest is history. Now, as Chicago is ready to begin the 2009 season, there are question marks surrounding Forte’s health, as well as the validity of his backups.

The following is a quick look at the running backs currently on the Bears roster, and where they stand going into training camp at the end of July.

Matt Forte

Forte was quite a surprise for the Bears last season as he became the focal point of the offense: rushing for over 1000 yards, and leading running backs in catches.

Being a dual threat really helped Chicago’s offense, as they were able to move the ball much more effectively in 2008 compared to seasons past.

Forte has a knack for finding the open hole and plowing through it, and he doesn’t give up until the last bit of yardage can be gained. He is easy to coach, and a team player.

The only issue with Forte is his durability. Right now he may be suffering from an undisclosed injury.

Also, if the Bears continue to use him at the pace that they used him at in 2008, it may not be long before Forte is injured much more seriously than he is (or has been) before.

Kevin Jones

Chicago resigned Jones after a somewhat dismal 2008 season in which he had very few carries, and spent a lot of time deactivated. The Bears promise that Jones will see more work in 2009, and he almost has to because Forte may end up running out of gas before the end of the season.

In Jones, the Bears do have a proven backup who was a former 1000-yard rusher, and is looking to get noticed.

He is also very well rested, and should be able to come in the game in certain situations and help Forte. Look for Jones to get many more carries than he did last season, and become an important part of the Bear’s running game in 2009.

Adrian Peterson

Peterson has become a fixture on the team for the past several seasons, and with quality running backs ahead of him he shouldn’t have to worry about making an appearance running the ball too much.

Peterson’s value comes mainly on special teams where he has been a monster making tackles and helping to make the Bears special teams unit one of the best in the NFL.

He should be able to settle into his role on special teams, and, barring any injury issues from either Forte or Jones, not have to worry about running the ball so much.

Garrett Wolfe

Wolfe, an undersized and underutilized back, may have to have a stellar training camp just to survive final cuts, but his lack of production can’t be set solely on his shoulders.

Wolfe could be used as a third down back in the Bears offense, and might end up catching passes out of the backfield now that Chicago has a capable quarterback.

In 2008, Wolfe did show some value on special teams, and had a few good plays that the coaches will remember. That potential might be enough to keep him on the team this season.

Jason Davis

Davis, a fullback, was used in relief of an injured Jason McKie last year, and didn’t fare as well as the coaching staff may have hoped. He comes into training camp as the number two fullback, and could earn a roster spot if he is able to step it up and perform well.

Some wonder if the Bears will keep two fullbacks on their roster, but if they do (and unless the Bears bring someone else in during training camp) Davis should be a lock to make the roster.

Jason McKie

McKie, the starting fullback on the Bears, had some injury problems last season, but appears to be very healthy heading into training camp, and should easily remain the starter going into the 2009 NFL season.

With the arrival of Cutler, the Bears could feature McKie as a receiver coming out of the backfield, giving the Bears another option on offense.


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