Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said on Wednesday during a Zoom call with reporters that he's happy with the team's depth and talent at running back, led by David Montgomery, who Pace expressed excitement about entering the 2020 season.
But with Tarik Cohen and Ryan Nall the only viable candidates behind Montgomery, there are legitimate reasons to question whether Chicago is prepared to maintain a strong running game this season if Montgomery gets injured or fails to develop.
Despite Pace's confidence, the Bears would be wise to add another veteran to their running back room, one that was recently ranked 25th by Pro Football Focus.
Last season saw the Bears go with rookie third-rounder David Montgomery as the lead back, and he finished with a 65.3 rushing grade and just 3.7 yards per attempt. A broken tackle machine in college, Montgomery showed off some of that prowess with 47 forced missed tackles in 2019, though it didn't translate to rushing production behind one of the worst run-blocking units in the league. While Montgomery does not have breakaway speed, he does have the skill set to maximize runs, and he should be more effective in Year 2.
Tarik Cohen is the more versatile option. He's a Swiss Army knife who lines up all over the formation. However, the ball was forced to him too often last year, and he caught 77 passes for just 456 yards at a pedestrian average of 5.8 yards per reception. Montgomery and Cohen should make for an effective duo, and with better production around them, they are in line to bounce back in 2020.
Undrafted rookie Artavis Pierce, who many assume will have a legitimate chance to make the active roster, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, a designation assigned to players who've either tested positive for the novel coronavirus or have been in close contact with someone who has. With so many unknowns surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on the 2020 NFL season, it's anyone's guess whether Pierce will get back onto the field in time to stake his claim for a place behind Montgomery.
Montgomery finished his rookie season with 242 carries for 889 yards and six touchdowns while averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. His upside is exciting, but the Bears are playing a dangerous game entering training camp without any viable competition for carries.
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Bears running backs ranked 25th in NFL by Pro Football Focus originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago