Matt Forte finished the season – perhaps his last in Chicago – with 974 rushing yards with an average of 4.1 yards per carry. Bears tailbacks combined averaged a fraction under 4.0, with Forte both lead back for most of the year and mentor all of it.
“I’ve kind of let them know at an early stage of the road,” Forte said, “to learn from some of the mistakes I’ve made and some of the stuff that I’ve seen other guys do and learn from that too. I kind of let them know what to be heads-up for.”
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The focus through much of the season was Forte’s future, whether it will be in a Bears uniform or someone else’s. Forte made an eloquent closing argument with 76 yards in 17 rushes (4.5 ypc) along with three receptions for another 34 yards, the first time in four games that Forte has had more touches than rookie Jeremy Langford.
The Bears have wasted millions looking for a complement to Forte and appeared to find his successor in Langford, who flashed with more than 100 total yards in two starts after Forte was idled with a knee injury. Since then Langford has shown steady improvement, albeit with a couple of costly dropped passes that figured into Bears defeats.
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“I think he’s improved in the pass protection area for sure,” said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “His ability to run downhill, I was surprised at how aggressive he was. I know, coming from Michigan State, they did so many gap-scheme type plays, downhill plays, but until you get a guy in the building and you start working with pads, you don’t really understand how physical [he is].”
Ka’Deem Carey, who began training camp as a possible roster casualty because of a lackluster rookie season and few contributions on special teams, squeaked onto the roster and provided some spot duty complete with two rushing and a receiving touchdown.
Moon's RB Grade: B
The Chicago Bears are thin at outside linebacker after only signing Aaron Lynch to provide a pass rush opposite Leonard Floyd this season.
Lynch was considered a risky signing in March because of his injury history. He's appeared in only 28 games over the last three years and he's already off to an injured start with the Bears.
Lynch was one of several players to miss Sunday's practice with a hamstring injury, a list that includes fellow starter, Danny Trevathan.
Lynch and Trevathan missed Saturday's practice, too.
Other Bears who sat out on Sunday were Sherrick McManis (hamstring), Daniel Brown (ankle) and Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder). First-round pick Roquan Smith remains a holdout.
Lynch is in a training camp battle with Sam Acho for a starting job and will have to hold off Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving as well. The more time he loses to injury, the less and less likely the chances are that he'll become an impact player on defense.
It's still early, and the Bears have an extra week of training camp because of the Hall of Fame game. There's plenty of time for Lynch to get healthy and put this hamstring issue behind him.
Matt Nagy is a few days into his first training camp as an NFL head coach, and while he's earned praise from players up and down the Chicago Bears' roster, he said Sunday after practice that he's not concerned with being a player's coach.
"I don't care about the players' coach part," he said, "but I care that they respect me and our coaches. This isn't going to happen overnight, this is something I'm trying to build with the players.
"There's so much stuff that comes into this. There are little areas where were all growing and that's where I think the respect factor comes in for all coaches."
Nagy won't make any friends with his approach to practicing in bad weather. The first few days of Bears camp have been drenched by rain but Nagy hasn't moved practice indoors. Instead, he wants his team to get used to playing in the elements. Hardly a favor to the players, even if it will prepare them for bad weather games this season.
The Bears will debut Nagy and their new offense on August 2 against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame game. Starters will likely play only one series, if at all.