The Bears signed a veteran backup running back to complement Matt Forte, and they didn’t have to look very far to do it. The team agreed to a 2-year contract with free agent Kevin Jones, who played sparingly on offense for the Bears this past season but will likely get more touches in the upcoming year.

Says offensive coordinator Ron Turner: “Matt Forte is so good that it’s hard to take him off the field. But we also know we have to. We want to get him in the neighborhood of 20-25 touches a game. That still leaves plenty of opportunities to get somebody else in there. We definitely know we need to incorporate other people.”

That, and Jones’ recovery from knee surgery, explains why Jones didn’t exactly play the “complementary” backup role with just 34 rushing attempts on the year.

There’s a reason why running backs hardly remain in the league beyond their 30th birthday. A lot has to do with the fact that it’s not the most difficult position to play and every year a new wave of athletic speedsters flood the NFL. In his rookie season, the Bears already placed a lot of wear and tear on Forte’s tires. If they’re not careful, they could be shortening Forte’s career if they don’t spell him more with Jones throughout the season.

The Bears, ever vigilant about spending dollars wisely and not getting into bidding wars for free agents, wound up filling a hole without breaking the bank. A full year removed from his surgery, I think we’ll see a more determined Jones in the backfield and, as a result, a better balanced running game for the Bears in 2009.