The Bears start mini-camp in six days and we’re bringing you position previews and expectations for this one of the earlies mini-camps in NFL history. Today we profile the RB position which is a solid position right now, provided Matt Forte doesn’t get hurt.
Matt Forteis the best thing to happen to this Bears franchise in a long time. Arguably since Brian Urlacher’s draft selection and that was nearly a decade ago. However the biggest fear we all should have is of a sophomore slump. Not because Forte’s prone to lapsing into laziness or anything negative on his part, but because of the number of times he ran with the rock last year whether it was with a carry or a reception. 373 touches and countless hits, shots, tackles, dog piles and anything else you can think of. Forte took a pounding for a first year rookie, more than just about any one else in the league.
While Forte is well built for the pounding at 6-2 217-pounds there is always a concern anyway you look at it. Given the average life expectancy for an NFL RB is at best four years it wouldn’t hurt to ensure Forte’s health for the long term.
Which brings us to Kevin Jones the anointed back up after re-signing for two years to be Forte’s backup. Jones did barely a thing to take the pressure off of Forte last year. Whether or not he does this year will be determined by the strength and health of his knee. Jones’ performance may literally be the most important aspect of this offense. He needs to take carries away from Forte to help preserve him for the long term. The better Jones peforms the better it is for the future of this franchise.
Jones should have one goal and that is beating out Forte for the starting job. His goal should be I am a veteran, I am back healthy from my knee surgery, I have a chip on my shoulder, I want to stay in this league and earn a big amount of money so I don’t want to be just a backup. His stated goal should be to supplant the second year pro. It won’t happen Forte is the entrenched starter, but Jones was willing to play special teams at the end of last year he should be gunning for Forte’s job. That level of expectations for himself will lead to the type of production the Bears need out of a backup option behind Forte.
For a third round pick you would hope the Bears would get more value out of Garrett Wolfe than they have. That being said Wolfe is not built to come in and light the world on fire, he’s a fairly one dimensional player who should try to round his game into better shape. He improved somewhat last year from his first year and if he gets behind an improved run blocking O-Line he could turn into a strong scat back contributor ala Darren Sproles or arguably Maurice Jones Drew. He may not ever be on the same level as those two but his ability to contribute could be enough to be a back up option to Forte.
It’s of note that Sproles didn’t light the league on fire in his first three years and only emerged in his fourth year for the Chargers. Given that Wolfe is the same type of player as a Sproles there could still be a bright future ahead for Wolfe. Some Bears fans have lacked patience with a guy entering only his third year in the league.
Adrian Peterson hangs on and keeps his spot on the roster not because of his production but because of his value on special teams. Peterson has proved himself worthy on special teams and because the Bears value special teams as such an important aspect of their overall game plan, he will likely stick around. There’s not much more you should ask or expect from Peterson. If he doesn’t keep up a certain level of production the Bears will give him his walking papers. For a sixth round pick that has been on the team since 2002 it will have been a productive career.