Once upon a time, Kevin Jones was the No. 1 high school football player in the country, enjoyed a sensational career at Virginia Tech and rushed for 1,133 yards as a rookie for the NFC North-rival Lions.
However, ever since, Jones has never topped 689 yards rushing in a season, battled injuries both minor and major seemingly every year and produced a grand total of 34 carries for 109 yards and zero touchdowns since signing with the Bears in 2008. Admittedly still working his way back from a torn ACL, the former Hokie was limited his first year in Chicago and even volunteered for special-teams duty down the stretch just so he could get on the field and contribute. Then this season, after being promised a bigger role on offense backing up starter Matt Forte, he tore ankle ligaments in the preseason finale and spent the entire campaign on injured reserve.
Jones played one in Detroit season with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but that doesn't change the fact that the Midway Monsters are looking for an upgrade behind Forte in free agency or the draft.
Scout.com has confirmed that the Bears spent considerable time at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis with LSU running back Keiland Williams.
Splitting reps in the backfield with a more heralded draft prospect, Charles Scott, Williams recorded 70 carries for 368 yards and four TDs as a senior, but he only caught four passes for 22 yards because the Tigers don't throw to their backs often. Scott broke his collarbone during the season, and at times Williams stood out as the primary ball carrier, although he broke his ankle in November and missed the rest of 2009. After failing his physical down at the Senior Bowl in January, Williams interviewed for teams at the Scouting Combine but did not participate in any drills: "I am about 80 percent. Probably really could run if I wanted to, but as far as like shake-wise, I am not where I really want to be."
The 6-0, 221-pound Williams is currently the No. 26 running back available for the 2010 NFL Draft according to Scout.com, but he seems to be falling.
JC's Take: Chicago's best reserve runner was Kahlil Bell, an undrafted rookie free agent out of UCLA, proving once again that investing big-time free agent money or high draft picks on change-of-pace backs isn't necessary.
But the Bears need to find one at some point, as Bell did some commendable things but doesn't offer much upside as a No. 2. Not only could a convincing case me made that the oft-injured Jones should be cut, but Adrian Peterson isn't expected back in free agency and Garrett Wolfe has contributed nothing offensively since coming off the board in Round 3 of the 2007 draft. While Forte is a good runner and a great receiver, the Windy City learned the hard way this year that he simply isn't special.
Even though Williams has talent but didn't get much of a chance to realize it in Baton Rouge, he doesn't seem to be a quality fit for Martz's scheme.
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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.
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