Bears-Browns preview: Bears have tough decision to make at running back

August 28th, 2014 - 2:30 pm

Matt Forte is coming off the best statistical season of his career, and there’s no reason — injuries aside — why he can’t continue that string of success in head coach Marc Trestman‘s second season at the helm.

But from the injury standpoint, it can’t be easily dismissed because Forte is drawing closer to 30 years of age, that mystical plateau when running backs are supposed to fall off the cliff and never look the same again. Forte had 363 touches last year between rushing attempts and receptions combined. He’s got a lot of mileage on him and the Bears will need a capable backup on the roster not only in the event that Forte gets injured, but to also help spell him and preserve him throughout the season.

To be a running back in Trestman’s offense, your first duty is to pass block and protect Jay Cutler. Forte is one of the best in the business at doing this, but do the Bears have another one on the roster?

Rookie running back Ka’Deem Carey figures to make the team by virtue of his draft status. That leaves potentially one spot open between three remaining competitors.

Shaun Draughn is the most senior of the group with three years of NFL experience. He’ll likely get the first look. What I like about him is how hard he runs the ball and hits the holes. Undrafted rookie Senorise Perry is the next most intriguing option because of his special teams versatility. His ability to return kicks and join the coverage teams will ultimately be his best shot to win a job. Finally, there’s rookie free agent Jordan Lynch, who was a standout college quarterback but hasn’t shown what he can do transitioning to running back in the NFL. His future home is most likely on a practice squad.

The competition between Draughn and Perry reminds me a lot of last year’s battle between Michael Ford and Armando Allen. It could come down to who makes the most plays in Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, particularly on special teams. I favor Draughn, but Perry’s versatility could be the deciding factor.