The Bears suffered a blow to the backfield during the off-season as James Allen signed with the expansion Houston Texans. Allen was a valuable weapon on third down situations as a runner or receiver. He tallied 469 yards on the ground and was the team's fourth leading receiver with 30 receptions for 203 yards.
Leon Johnson, who made the most of limited playing time last season, will now back up Thomas. Johnson rushed 20 times for 99 yards and four Td's, which equates to a score every five attempts.
Although, Thomas and Johnson have similar running techniques the two will combine to punish opposing defenses with their physical style of play. Rabih Abdullah can play either backfield position and is great on special teams coverage. Adrian Peterson, the Bears sixth-round draft choice, could make the team as a special teams player, but will battle out with undrafted free agents Eric McCoo of Penn State and Maurice Hicks out of North Carolina AT&T.
Damon Shelton will miss the first three games of the 2002 campaign after serving one game out of his four-game suspension from last season. He will likely be the starter when he comes back, but until then the blocking duties will likely fall upon Stanley Pritchett.