Josh Bellamy considers Jordan Howard his "nephew," and has communicated a message to the second-year running back: Forget about 2016.
2016, of course, was the year in which the 22-year-old Howard set the Bears' single-season rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards and was a Pro Bowl selection. That's not necessarily easy to leave behind.
"What we did last year, that's in the past," Bellamy said. "So you gotta do that every year. You do that every year, man, you'll get in the Hall of Fame, and you'll be one of those guys that goes to the Pro Bowl every year, like Adrian Peterson, those guys. Forget last year and let's move forward."
Howard was at Halas Hall Tuesday to be honored along with Bellamy as the 2016 Piccolo Award winners ("It’s a real honor to win this award along with J.B.," Howard said). He spoke like someone who has his sights set on greater accomplishments than one year of 1,000-plus yards or a January trip to Orlando.
"Ever since I've been playing this game, I always wanted to be the best," Howard said. "That's still my drive. I want to be the best player. I want to make the Hall of Fame. But I also want to win Super Bowls. I want to keep getting better so the team can get better as well."
That Howard was standing in Halas Hall talking about Hall of Fame aspirations is somewhat incredible, given a year ago he tumbled all the way to the fifth round and the 150th overall pick.
That he fell that far was a surprise to him, and also to some observers — NFL.com's writeup pegged him as a second or third-round pick and compared him to Arian Foster.
"I didn't go where I thought I was going to be going," Howard said. "So that was kind of a disappointment. But I was very grateful to be selected at all."
And the Bears, of course, are grateful to have landed him.