With both David Montgomery injured and Damien Williams still in COVID-19 protocols, the Chicago Bears have brought in four running backs for tryouts, per the NFL’s waiver wire.
The Bears worked out former Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans back Duke Johnson, UDFA C.J. Marable, ex-Washington RB Chris Thompson and former Arizona Cardinals rusher T.J. Logan. The team signed Marable as an undrafted free agent earlier this year, but he was released in August. The Bears had also shown interest in Thompson previously, as he worked out for them a few weeks back, but was never signed.
Montgomery is slated to return sometime around Week 10 or Week 11, and Williams could be out another week, so it’s quite possible one of these four winds up on the Bears practice squad heading into Week 7.
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Bears Depth at RB Has Been Pleasant Surprise This Season
With both Montgomery and Williams out for Chicago’s pivotal Week 6 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, rookie sixth round draft pick Khalil Herbert became the team’s feature back. While the Bears lost, 24-14, Herbert was one of the bright spots in the game, running the ball 19 times for 97 yards (that’s 5.1 yards per carry) and his first career touchdown.
So far, the rookie out of Virginia Tech has 40 carries for 179 yards (4.5 ypc) and a TD, but he has played just 27% of the Bears’ offensive snaps. After his performance against a very good Packers defense, that number should be going up soon.
If Williams remains out, both Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce — both of whom have been on the practice squad — would be elevated to the active roster again. Thus, the addition of another RB wouldn’t be a surprise, even though it would likely be a temporary addition.
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A Bit More About the RBs Chicago Worked Out
A fifth-round pick by the Washington Football Team in 2013, Thompson spent seven seasons there before heading to Jacksonville in 2020 to play for the Jaguars. Thompson has been a versatile back over his eight seasons, rushing for 1,214 yards and five TDs on 257 carries (4.7 ypc) while also catching 232 passes for 1,918 yards and 11 receiving scores, but his 2020 campaign coupled with his injury history leave cause for concern.
He had just seven carries for 20 yards (2.9 ypc) last year, and he finished the year on injured reserve with a back injury. After tearing his ACL in college, Thompson tore his left labrum twice (requiring surgery), broke his right fibula and missed over six games in 2018 with a rib injury.
Marable spent his freshman year at Arkansas State before transferring to Coastal Carolina, where he played for three years. He finished his collegiate career with 491 carries for 2,691 yards (5.5 ypc) and 29 TDs. He also had 703 receiving yards and 12 TDs.
Logan was selected by the Cardinals in the fifth round (179th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. With punt returner Jakeem Grant leaving the Packers game with an injury and not returning, Logan is one to keep an eye on this week. If Grant misses time, he could get the call. A wrist injury kept him out his rookie year, but he played in 10 games with the Cardinals in 2018, averaging 24.7 yards per kickoff return.
He was released by the Cards the following year, and he landed in Tampa Bay after that. He played in 12 games for the Bucs, averaging 20.8 yards per kickoff return and 9.5 yards per punt return. He didn’t play at all last season, spending the bulk of the year on IR with a leg injury.
Johnson is an intriguing name for the Bears. A third-round pick out of Miami for the Browns in 2015, Johnson spent his first four seasons in Cleveland, where he established himself as a solid pass catcher out of the backfield. He played in all 16 games in each of his first four seasons, starting 17.
He rushed for 1,286 yards and five TDs on 299 carries (4.3 ypc) and he also caught 307 passes for 2,829 yards and 12 scores. He was traded to the Texans in 2019, where he played 27 games over the last two years. Houston released him in February, and he had a cup of coffee on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad before getting released in September. He doesn’t have any major red flags injury-wise.