After Jones: Forte is still the odds-on favorite to start Week 1 at Indianapolis, but now he won't have as much pressure on him to shoulder the load for 20-25 carries each and every Sunday. It's quite possible that Jones opens the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list since he's just seven months removed from an ACL tear, although he has a history of being a quick healer and is way ahead of schedule with his rehab. While Forte and Jones don't really complement each other with thunder-and-lightning styles, they could still develop into a solid one-two punch down the stretch.
Looking ahead: Jones is only on the books for a one-year contract, meaning he's using this season as an audition for the other teams in the league to show that he can stay healthy and be productive. Even with Jones now in the mix, Forte is still being counted on as the focal point of this offense both this season and in the future. Forte might even learn a thing or two from Jones, who has always run hard and been a team-first guy.
After Jones: Forte-and-Jones has a much better ring to it than Forte-and-Peterson, which means Peterson will have to make himself invaluable on special teams once again. Jones is much stronger, much faster, and offers much more upside, so look for him to unseat Peterson as the secondary ball-carrier once he's cleared by the medical staff. Peterson would really have to come out of the gate strong in order to maintain a significant role on offense, but he better shift some of his focus to punts and kickoffs in the interim.
Looking ahead: Peterson's future with the team is cloudy at best, as he's now 29 years old and isn't starter material in the NFL. His contract is another thing working against him right now – it wouldn't cost the team a dime against the salary cap to cut him. The Midway Monsters might have to keep four tailbacks if they want to hold on to Peterson, which means he's far from a lock to make the 53-man roster.
After Jones: It's hard to fathom exactly there Wolfe fits in with the Bears at this juncture, at least with regard to the ground game. But he was used frequently on special teams later in the schedule last year because opponents were terrified to kick the ball deep to Devin Hester, so Wolfe saw some time as an upback and should rehash that role in 2008. However, with Jones now leap-frogging him on the depth chart, his potential development as a ball-carrier just took a hit.
Looking ahead: Wolfe's roster spot may not be in jeopardy to the degree Peterson's is, as this organization has a history of falling in love with recent draft picks and protecting them to no end. That being said, how much longer can Wolfe earn his keep as a little-used running back and an upback in the kicking game? Perhaps general manager Jerry Angelo should simply admit his mistake and sever ties with the hometown hero – taking a sixth-round prospect in Round 3 is even more of a waste if you never give him a chance.
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.
The Jones Effect: What Happens Now?
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