We've all heard Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith repeat ad nauseam that his team "gets off the bus running the football," although his precious ground game was dead last in the league this past season at just 3.1 yards per carry. Cedric Benson was a colossal disappointment after taking over for Thomas Jones as the starter, Adrian Peterson was solid as a secondary option but struggled as the primary back, and Garrett Wolfe rode the pine most of his rookie year until Benson went down with an ankle injury in Week 12. The offensive line deserves some of the blame as to why the Midway Monsters only posted 83.1 rushing yards per contest, but sometimes the ball-carrier has to create a hole when one isn't there for him.
General manager Jerry Angelo didn't made an effort to sign any of the free-agent tailbacks that were on the market this offseason, which means he must be looking to the NFL Draft for another option in the backfield.
RB Matt Forte
Pat Sullivan/AP Images
Scout.com has confirmed that the Bears have scheduled a private workout Apr. 3 with Tulane running back Matt Forte.
Although he battled injuries his first three seasons as a collegian, Forte was a monster as a senior and finished second in the nation with 2,007 yards rushing while averaging 6.0 yards per carry and scoring 22 touchdowns. He runs behind his pads well and always seems to be falling forward for an extra yard or two, and he's also proven to be a quality receiver out of the backfield – he caught exactly 100 passes for the Green Wave. While he is not an explosive runner and isn't especially elusive in the open field, Forte runs under control and displays excellent balance in the hole.
Forte performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but he could still be on the board late in the second round or early in the third since the running back position is the deepest it's been in years.
Angelo might be hesitant to pull the trigger on a first-rounder like Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall after giving $17 million in guaranteed money to Benson just three years ago, but Forte could challenge for playing time immediately and possibly push Benson in a way that neither Peterson nor Wolfe can.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.