Chicago Bears training camp preview: The running backs

Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports /

In the upcoming 2023 NFL season, the Chicago Bears running back unit promises to be a major factor in the team’s offensive strategy.

The unit is comprised of both seasoned pros and emerging talent. It has all the ingredients necessary to be one of the most dynamic in the league. Let’s delve into what fans can expect from this versatile and potent group.

There could be an interesting battle brewing between the top three running backs. Khalil Herbert is the front-runner for the job. He will try to fend off D’Onta Foreman and rookie Roschon Johnson.

Herbert showed in his two seasons that he has big play potential. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry in 2022 and 5.0 yards in his career. Known for his breakaway speed, impressive agility, and hard-nosed running style, he’s a consistent threat to defenses.

Herbert played behind David Montgomery in his first two seasons. Now he has a chance to be the full-time starter.

The starting job won’t just be given to Herbert, however. Foreman will push him every step of the way. While he doesn’t possess Herbert’s speed, he is a bruiser. He and Herbert complement each other. Herbert utilizes his speed while Foreman wears the defense down.

Foreman himself was in the background before getting a chance. He was Derrick Henry’s backup in 2021. When Henry went down Foreman had the chance to start. In 2022, he was with the Carolina Panthers backing up Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers traded McCaffrey and made Foreman the starter. He finished the season with 914 rushing yards.

Now Foreman gets to play a lot of snaps in Chicago. He might not win the starter’s job but he will play meaningful snaps. He and Herbert will make a good duo.

The Bears also boast a promising young talent who has shown flashes of brilliance in college. They drafted Johnson in the fourth round. His speed, agility, and vision make him a potential home-run threat every time he touches the ball.

Johnson was another player who played in the shadow of someone else. At Texas, he was Bijan Robinson’s backup. Despite that, he had a very productive career. Now he is ready to break out at the pro level. If he can continue to develop his skills as a rusher and receiver, he could be a valuable addition to the Bears’ offensive arsenal.

While it looks as if Herbert and Foreman will take the majority of snaps, Johnson could carve out some action. He is likely the future for the Bears. He has some quickness and pop in his running. Unlike the other two, however, he can also be a threat in the passing game.

The Bears likely keep one more running back on the roster. There will be a battle between Trestan Ebner and Travis Homer. Neither one provides much in terms of running but both can be an asset in the passing game.

To complement these rushers, the Bears have a reliable and experienced fullback, Khari Blasingame. He’s a player who may not often find himself in the spotlight, but his contributions on the field are significant. Known for his crushing blocks, he opens up running lanes and provides excellent protection for the quarterback when needed.

The Bears’ coaching staff also deserves mention for their work with this unit. They’ve developed a scheme that accentuates each player’s strengths and fosters a team-first mentality that has been evident in the group’s performance.

Overall, the success of the Bears’ running back unit in the 2023 season will hinge on their ability to remain healthy, continue developing their skills, and maintain a high level of consistency. If the Bears can effectively exploit their depth and versatility at the running back position, they have the potential to field one of the most potent rushing attacks in the NFL.

Last season, the Chicago Bears had the best rushing attack in the league. Most of that came from quarterback Justin Fields. Fields had 1,143 rushing yards, the second-most in a season by a quarterback.

The Bears don’t want to continue to depend on Fields’ legs. They need him to help more with his arm, throwing the ball. While he will still use his running to make big plays, the coaches might not want to have him run 160 times again as he did in 2022.

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With a great blend of speed, power, and versatility, the Chicago Bears running back unit promises to be an exciting group to watch in the 2023 season. As they gear up to take on the challenge, fans can look forward to thrilling runs, gritty performances, and game-changing plays from the backfield. Chicago’s running game is poised to leave a significant mark on the gridiron in the upcoming season.