With training camp in full swing for the Chicago Bears, the team is faced with more questions than answers when looking at the roster, but one of the positions of strength this season will be running back.
Jordan Howard will begin the season as the team’s starting running back after coming off a historic rookie year.
Howard set several Bears rookie rushing record with 1,313 rushing yards and averaging 5.2 yards per carry and was named to the Pro-Bowl. The intrigue with Howard this season, won’t involve Howard, but which players will be complimenting as the backup running backs.
The Bears currently have five other running backs on the roster, they include Jeremy Langford, Benny Cunningham, Ka’Deem Carey, Tarik Cohen, and Josh Rounds.
Head coach John Fox is known for rotating a lot of running backs on offense as 3 or more running backs have logged carries in his first two years as Bears head coach. With uncertainty at the other offensive positions, the Bears will most likely look to run the ball more to start the season.
In Jeremy Langford’s rookie season in 2015, he was seen as Matt Forte’s heir apparent as he showed flashes of being a big time back as he scored seven touchdowns. Langford, who was the Week 1 starter last season, struggled before losing the starting job to Howard after being sidelined with an injury in Week 3.
Once returning from injury in Week 9, Langford showed his value as a backup running back as he averaged at least one catch per game with an average of eight yards per catch the rest of the season. He also showed his value in goal line situations as all four of his touchdowns last season came within 5 yards of the end-zone.
General manager Ryan Pace and the Bears gambled during the draft this year selecting Tarik Cohen out of North Carolina A&T in the 4th round.
The pick was questionable not only because of Cohen’s small size measuring just 5-foot-6 and weighing 170 pounds but because of him coming from a Division II football program.
Cohen is highly athletic which led to his success while at A&T, but the heighten level of competition is what worries scouts with Cohen heading into the NFL. Cohen draws comparison to Darren Sproles because he is that explosive and quick for such a small body frame.
Ka’Deem Carey was seen as the second string running back to start last season, before being demoted to third string upon Langford’s return from injury. Carey was the smallest running back for the Bears the last season measuring 5’10 and weighing 215 pounds.
Fox highly values Carey for his ability to run hard in between the tackles and is seen as a good pass catcher coming out of the backfield in short yardage situations. He also has some special teams value.
The Bears lone free agent acquisition at the position in the off-season was running back Benny Cunningham who came over from the Los Angeles Rams. Cunningham spent four seasons with the Rams and is a career back-up as he only started 3 of 57 games he appeared in.
Cunningham does provide value from a special team standpoint as he has average 27.1 yards per kick off return for his career.
The Bears will most likely carry three running backs on the roster to start the season with Howard as the starter.
With two spots and five backs, the Bears will most likely keep Langford as the back up running back because they were so high on him going into the start of last season and his ability to prove himself a reliable back up late last year. Cohen provides a change of pace back and can be an explosive weapon out of the back field while providing special teams depth a returner. Rounds will mostly have to play for a practice squad spot as he has the toughest hill to climb.
That leaves Carey and Cunningham who will both have to have amazing camps to warrant the Bears either keeping four running backs or proving to be more valuable than Langford at the number two running back spot.
The Bears may have a lot of questions, but the depth at the running back position will be one of the smaller questions for the team during training camp.
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