As the Chicago Bears begin their training camp this week, we’re taking a look at the positional battles that are likely going to develop on the practice fields of Bourbonnais.
Today, we’re taking a look at the team’s running backs.
Jordan Howard has headed off to greener pastures (both literally and figuratively) with the Eagles, so now the Bears are left with the question of how to structure their running game in his absence.
Tarik Cohen is a no-question starter, and will primarily continue in his role as a passing option out of the backfield, but he could potentially get a few more carries with Howard out of the equation.
The question, then is what to do with the bulk of the workload in the ground game. Early consensus among Bears observers is that the team will give David Montgomery the lion's share of the carries, as he's got the shiftiness and the physicality to slide right into the game that Howard brought to the table, but Mike Davis is likely to get a big amount of work too, especially early in the season as Montgomery settles into the NFL grind.
That being said, Davis has never had more than 112 carries in a season, so it would stand to reason that the Bears will want to get Montgomery involved sooner rather than later.
With three running backs largely fighting it out for a starting role or two, the Bears don't really have a lot of competition down the roster at the running back position.
In fact, the team only invited five running backs to training camp, so there is at least a chance that they could keep all five on the 53-man roster come September.
Rookie Kerrith Whyte Jr. and 2018 training camp and preseason standout Ryan Nall are also in camp this time around, and while Whyte likely has the inside track for a roster spot, Nall could really make a name for himself with another big camp for the Bears.
The Odd Man Out:
It is likely the Bears will keep four running backs on the roster, with Cohen, Montgomery, Davis, and Whyte Jr. all making the squad, but the big question mark is Nall. He could potentially sneak onto the roster, but more likely he will be on the outside looking in when 37 players are trimmed from the club before the beginning of the regular season.
For more of NBC Chicago's coverage of the Bears' position battles:
7/26 Secondary breakdown
7/24 Linebacker breakdown