Runner's World: Bears Have Options This Year

By Maggie Hendricks
|  Wednesday, Aug 4, 2010  |  Updated 12:17 PM CDT
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Matt Forte will need to be better in the red zone this season.

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This preseason, questions surrounding the Bears focus more on the passing than the running game. How will Jay Cutler perform under Mike Martz's offensive regime? Will any receivers emerge as breakout stars? Why in the world do they Bears have so many tight ends on the roster?

The one area of stability for the Bears' offense is in the running game.

Matt Forte heads into his third season with the Bears with expectations hanging over him. He fell just short of 1,000 yards -- 929, to be exact -- and is expected to be a leader in the backfield. He is the Bears best running back, but he has glaring weaknesses. Forte seemed allergic to the end zone, scoring only four touchdowns in '09 after having scored eight in '08. For the Bears to do anything this season, Forte must be a reliable option to score.

Pushing Forte along is Chester Taylor, an off-season acquisition who knows the NFL North well, having spent the last four season in Minnesota. Taylor is expected to split time with Forte. Lovie Smith even raised the possibility of the two lining up along side each other in the backfield. Though he's had breakout seasons -- in 2006, he rushed for 1,216 yards for the Vikings -- Taylor won't be expected to be the Bears' only running option. Like Forte, he will be expected to be a dependable rusher.

Things get more interesting when you get to the spot for the third running back on the depth chart, where Garrett Wolfe and Kahlil Bell will battle for playing time.

Wolfe is a hometown favorite, having grown up in Chicago. He sat the second half of last season with injury, but reports from Bourbonnais say that he has been doing well not only in his limited chances as an RB, but also on special teams. He'll need to be impressive, as Bell, in his second season with the Bears is going to be pushing hard for that third spot. Bell filled in for Wolfe after Wolfe went on injured reserve, and took advantage of the opportunity. Bears fans will remember Bell's 72-yard run against the Eagles last season, and the Bears will want to see more of those flashes of brilliance before they give him that third spot.

The good news is that the Bears are deep at RB, and the competition, both between Forte and Taylor and Bell and Wolfe, should breed excellent results for the team.   

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