Positional Review: Backfield

The Bears spent the fourth pick in the draft on RB Cedric Benson, but how long will it be before he's in the starting lineup?

If there can be an MVP for the worst offense in NFL it was Thomas Jones. Last year, he led the team in rushing yardage (948), receptions (56) and touchdowns (7).

The production came without the benefit of a passing game. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry in the three games Rex Grossman started and 3.55 the remainder of the season.

Durability has always been a question with Jones. While his 13 starts last year were a career high, he had just one carry over a three game stretch in the middle of the season because of a toe injury.

The Bears 4-0 in the games that Anthony Thomas led the team in rushing. However, Thomas wanted a starting job the Bears were not inclined to offer, so he singed with Dallas as an unrestricted free agent.

Jones is a back a team can win with, but the Bears don't view him as one you will win because of. He has three years left on a four-year $10 million deal, which down the road will likely have to be restructured or he could become a cap casualty.

Although Jones remains atop the depth chart, it won't be long until Benson takes the starting job. Paying a third down back starters money will not fly, but for now Jones can still be a piece of the offense.

Benson and Jones are power and speed that if used correctly will keep opponents off balance, especially if they're in the backfield at the same time.

Benson is NFL ready and can take a beating. His biggest adjustment will be picking up the blitz and being a factor in the passing game. If he isn't the starter by Week 1 it will be an upset.

Behind Jones and Benson is Adrian Peterson. He will make the team for his special teams contributions and he can carry the ball on a limited basis.

At fullback Bryan Johnson remains the favorite to win the starting job. The team traded a sixth round draft pick for him last year to fit into Terry Shea's offense. There is still a place for in the west coast offense Ron Turner will run.

Jason McKie will be the backup to Johnson, who combined for 27 receptions and four touchdowns last year.

The lack of a passing threat contributed to an inconsistent ground game that tied for 25th in the league.

At times Shea abandoned the run with Jonathan Quinn and Craig Krenzel behind center, which played a role in his dismissal.

With a starting quarterback that has just six career starts, Turner plans to rededicate the offense to the run.

GM Jerry Angelo has tried to give Turner the tools necessary to manage the clock consequently keeping the defense off the field.

Whether or not it is a successful experiment remains to be seen.


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