Bears Won't Ignore Need for RB Depth....................
Bears don't want to drop ball on RB depth
By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter 2:43 p.m. CST, January 25, 2012
MOBILE, Ala. -- There is plenty hanging in the balance for the Chicago Bears with the franchise carefully moving toward selecting its next general manager, a step that will lead to a full offseason of moves.
Running backs coach Tim Spencer and offensive line assistant Dan Price are the only two members of Lovie Smith’s staff at the Senior Bowl this week. Spencer has been able to check out some of the running backs in case the Bears decide to make the position a priority in the draft.
No matter who is selected to replace Jerry Angelo, the Bears are expected to place the franchise tag on Matt Forte in the event a long-term contract agreement cannot be reached. Forte’s camp is doing what it can, which is simply take a wait-and-see approach.
But more decisions need to be made. Do the Bears want to retain Marion Barber, who has a track record for not staying healthy and has a base salary of $1.9 million for 2012 and a $100,000 workout bonus? What will the club do with Kahlil Bell, the only restricted free agent on the roster?
Bell ran hard for the Bears at the end of the season when he piled up 337 yards on 79 carries, highlighted by 121 yards on 23 carries in Week 16 at Green Bay. But in those final two games, he fumbled three times and lost one.
Ball security isn’t an issue with Forte -- he’s very sure-handed. Bell made some critical errors and nothing gets a back in trouble quicker than putting the ball on the ground. Just recall Barber fumbling in overtime at Denver on Dec. 11.
“Is that an issue?” Spencer said. “There is no question that we are definitely going to address that, the way he carries the football. Kahlil gives you great effort. He’s got excellent run skills. But sometimes he gets a little wild with the football, gets it away from his body. He’s got good cuts so when he cuts, he does that, but he swings his arm out. So, there are some things we can correct and tighten up, I think we can do that. He’s going to have to because, obviously, we can’t put the ball on the ground but he does have talent enough and you saw that.
“When you see him give a look for the defense, which he did a majority of the time, he’s making nice runs, nice cuts against our defense and we think our defense is pretty darn good. So, he is running against good guys so you get a feel for him. That’s why we had the confidence in him.”
Fumbling issues can crop up with young running backs. Adrian Peterson had issues with it in Minnesota. Tiki Barber used to be notorious for it. Both backs improved.
“You just analyze what is going on,” Spencer said. “We’ll make tapes and show him exactly what he is doing, show him what people who don’t fumble do and look for people with maybe a similar running style. He has to be aware. We strip the ball in practice every day. He knows what he is supposed to do. When he’s in that situation, he’s got to be able to concentrate and put the ball away.”
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune