If the Bears keep four running backs – something they’ve rarely done without one being a fullback – then some roster decisions won’t have to be made. But that may not be so easy, given possible needs to keep extra players at other positions as insurance against injury concerns.
Put another way: Could the Bears actually keep Ka’Deem Carey, Jeremy Langford and Jacquizz Rodgers as backups to Matt Forte?
Langford, the one roster lock after Forte, broke a long run, with a 34-yarder in the second quarter that included strong second effort to turn a play that appeared to be stuffed into the Bears’ longest play of the first half. Langford had the second-longest play of the Bears’ preseason when he popped a 46-yard run in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Langford finished with 55 yards on nine carries and concludes the preseason as the Bears’ leading rusher with 153 yards on 28 carries, nearly 5.5 yards per rush.
“I’ve been pleased with the young guy,” said coach John Fox. “I think it’s been well documented that we like him. We did draft him. I think he’s had a good camp and he had another good performance tonight.”
Carey, who came into this preseason facing an uphill run to make the roster, led all rushers with 68 yards on 12 carries (5.7 ypc). And he has occasionally appeared on special teams, a weakness in his game as a rookie.
Carey appears to have played his way into a strong discussion on who and how many backs to keep. Rodgers, with a modest 3.7-yard average in four seasons as an Atlanta Falcon, finished the preseason with 23 carries for a total of 86 yards – right at his career average.
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Unless they commit four of their 25 offensive roster spots to running backs, however, a decision could come down to Carey with an unknown upside vs. Rodgers with a workmanlike if unspectacular track record.
“I think Ka’Deem Carey ran it hard and ‘Quizz’ ran it hard,” Fox said. “It’s never a fun moment making decisions on what 53 to keep. I think all three of them ran the ball very effectively tonight, and throughout camp.”