One last shot for Harvey Unga

The Bears reinstated running back Harvey Unga, after he left the team for the entire 2011 season. Training camp this year will be his final opportunity to earn a roster spot in Chicago.

In 2010, the Chicago Bears used a seventh-round pick in the supplemental draft on BYU running back Harvey Unga. The former Cougar was kicked off his college team after having premarital relations with his girlfriend, a forbidden act at the Mormon university, thus his entry in the supplemental draft.

Unga played three seasons at BYU and broke the school record for career rushing yards (3,455). He's a bigger back (6-0, 237) yet plays with good quickness and agility. He was more likely to run around a defender than through him.

Unga spent 2010 on injured reserve with a pulled hamstring. He showed up to training camp last year and rushed nine times for 27 yards in the second preseason game. He was then excused from camp for personal reasons and never returned. The club put him on the reserve/left squad list on Sept. 3.

RB Harvey Unga
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

Chicago's starting ball carrier, Matt Forte, is not at Halas Hall this week for the start of the team's voluntary workout program. Upset with the franchise tender, Forte isn't likely to show up until he receives a long-term contract, which doesn't appear to be any time soon.

Conversely, Kahlil Bell is working out with the club, despite not having signed his restricted free agent tender. He signed a waiver protecting both him and the team in case of injury. He's currently the team's third back.

Michael Bush, signed this offseason for four years, is also ahead of Unga on the depth chart.

Assuming Forte plays this season, Unga will need to leapfrog over one of the three backs on the current roster, all of whom are firmly entrenched in their roles. Considering Unga's lack of experience, that seems unlikely.

The best shot for him to make the final 53-man roster coming out of camp is on special teams. Chicago likes to use additional running backs, as well as linebackers, as core special teams players. Unga will have an opportunity to find a spot in Dave Toub's unit but even those odds are slim, as he never played special teams in college.

Unga could surprise everyone in training camp this year, assuming his personal problems have been resolved. He's athletic enough to play in the NFL. It's up to him to take advantage of this final opportunity and earn a roster spot. If he doesn't, the team won't hesitate to send him packing.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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