Essentially, Marion Barber is the Bears' second, or third depending on how you view Harvey Unga, attempt to fill the short-yardage goal-line back void in the last two years. And if you watched last night's preseason game, you saw Barber run seven times for 45 yards on second-stringers while Chester Taylor continued the same pattern of "blech" witnessed so often last year.
It gets better. Factor in Harvey Unga's rushing (I still can't get that image of the "pile of bodies" moving towards the end zone out of my head) and Kahlil Bell's excellent garbage-time production, and it becomes even more difficult to rationalize Chester Taylor's continued spot on the roster.
I didn't think last season's Chester Taylor represented the real Chester Taylor. And it's a small sample size so far, but it looks like I might have been wrong on that. Taylor's three carries on three yards was very uninspiring. But everything Taylor was not last night - failure to break tackles, not hitting open holes - Barber was. Matt Bowen pointed out Barber's aggressiveness in hitting holes and finishing runs, not to mention his complete shedding of Aaron Williams. He needs a repeat performance to solidify the number two spot, but in my opinion, he should already be there.
Kahlil Bell's night was also solid - at times, didn't display very solid footing, but when he got open space to run in and holes to hit, he capitalized. He looked especially good receiving from the backfield, better than I expected. It's these kinds of things preseason games are for, not just the numbers. Factor in Bell's special teams contributions (please tell me he won't be returning punts any time soon in real action, however...) and his execution converting fourth and one, and he's a lock.
That brings it to Harvey Unga. If Barber does what Unga is supposed to do, which is run with power and pick up short yardage, Unga might be left out to dry and that could be what saves Taylor if the Bears go with four RBs. But after last night, Unga has to get another chance. He had some rushes where he didn't have much room to work with, but the power is definitely there.
Taylor was signed to be both a complementary piece to Matt Forte and fill the power void, and all through last season and so far this year he hasn't come through. Again, trying not to overreact here, but it looks like he has to be running out of chances.