The Chicago Bears have added another running back to the fray, although it does nothing to assuage the minds of those concerned about injured starter David Montgomery. On the same day, the Jacksonville Jaguars released their top rusher Leonard Fournette, the Bears re-signed rusher Napoleon Maxwell.
Maxwell signed on with the team in May, only to be waived a few months later. While it’s possible general manager Ryan Pace and company could still go after Fournette or one of the other remaining veteran options, it’s looking more and more like they’re riding with who they’ve got, for better or worse…
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Napoleon Maxwell: Likely Practice Squad Candidate
The 6′ 0″, 215 pound Maxwell played his college ball at Florida International University, where he amassed 2,090 yards on 392 carries (that’s a 5.3 yard average) and 22 scores in four seasons. He also caught 30 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, so Matt Nagy could be looking to stash him on the practice squad if he shows potential.
His injury history is a bit of a concern, however. Maxwell sat out both of the 2015 and 2016 seasons after he tore the same ligament in the same knee. Still, he recovered in an incredible and admirable fashion, playing 13+ games in each of his final three seasons at FIU. He didn’t score a combine invite, but he was clocked at a 4.59 40-yard dash time.
CB Michael Joseph Now on IR
The Bears have also placed cornerback Michael Joseph on the injured reserve list after he suffered an as-yet-undisclosed injury.
Joseph has been a regular on the team’s practice squad over the last two seasons, making the squad as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He was promoted to the 53-man roster for the final two games of the season in 2019, but he didn’t get onto the field.
After All-Pro Kyle Fuller, the Bears’ depth at corner is murky at best. They now have 2020 second-round picks Jaylon Johnson, fifth-round pick Kindle Vildor, veteran Kevin Toliver II, 2019 seventh-round pick Stephen Denmark, 2019 sixth-rounder Duke Shelley and second-year defensive back Xavier Crawford. Free-agent acquisition Artie Burns went down for the year with a torn ACL last month, and now Joseph will miss at least the first eight games of the season.
Bears Should Add Veteran Depth at Both RB & CB
Montgomery will miss just 2-4 weeks with his groin injury, but it highlights the lack of depth the Bears have at the position. If his ankle injury were to persist, Chicago would be in trouble. Going after a guy like Fournette makes sense because he would be entirely affordable while also giving the Bears a two-headed monster in the backfield. Fournette has 2,631 yards rushing in 36 starts, and last year alone, he had 522 receiving yards — in John DeFilippo’s offense.
The Bears are also thin at corner, particularly after losing Burns for the year. The Raiders just released veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara in a move many were surprised by, and if the veteran corner is healthy, he might be worth a look. He should no longer be a starter, of course, because he had a pretty evident drop-off last year, but he could provide some nice depth and an invaluable veteran voice for the younger guys.