The running back position looks to be a strength for the Chicago Bears in 2011. They ran the ball real good in the second half last season, and there's no reason to think they won't build on that. This may be the deepest position on the roster, and a talented player may end up being visited by The Turk.
Matt Forte gets the '2nd or 3rd tier back' remarks from some pundits, but a few are football smart enough to mention him with the games best. As an all around back you can argue he's right up there. Receiving, blocking, in game adjustments, and now that his offensive line can open a hole on occasion, he's got his yards per carry north of 4.0. Forte is the clear cut starter, but behind him there's some slots up in the air.
Last years #2, Chester Taylor, has a fight on his hands. After being miscast as a short yardage guy last year, the Bears now have two legit short yardage guys in former Cowboy Marion Barber and last years supplemental draft pick, Harvey Unga. I've always liked Barber, he runs angry and he runs hard. And he put the heat on Taylor with the way he performed against Buffalo. Unga showed a toughness when he was in the game on Saturday night too.
Taylor has a similar skill set to Forte. He's a good receiver out of the backfield, and he's solid in blitz pickup, but he's not giving you anything in special teams, and that's a problem. Kahlil Bell, who himself ran hard on Saturday, will add to the special teams. Unga might give you some special teams depth too. The Bears carried 4 backs last year, so they'll more than likely do the same in '11. But which 4? And will a fullback make the final 53?
Eddie Williams and Will Ta'ufo'ou are both traditional lead fullbacks, and may be in a battle with the extra tight ends for who sticks with the team. I can see the Bears opening up with either a 4th TE or a FB, but probably not both positions. There is one more back in camp, Notre Dame's Robert Hughes, but he's the proverbial warm camp body.
My best guess is the Bears look to trade Taylor. As Pete linked up in today's Den, Taylor to Houston makes sense, and if the Bears can pry a late round or even a conditional draft choice (depending on how well he performs) from the Texans, that would be gravy. Because the other option will be a visit from The Turk.