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Michael Ford could see extended playing time against the Chargers

With the Chicago Bears running back depth depleted by injury, we could see some extended playing time for undrafted rookie free agent Michael Ford.

Grant Halverson

When Michael Ford was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent from LSU, it didn't cause much of a ripple. Backup collegiate players rarely do.

His college career was nothing spectacular, but he did have an impressive workout at the NFL combine. It was impressive enough that Bears GM Phil Emery decided to give him a shot.

At LSU Ford had a grand total of eight receptions in three seasons, that doesn't exactly scream West Coast Offense tailback, and his 2011 season was his best as a rusher with 756 yards. In 2012, he only had 392 rushing yards, but he was the primary kick returner, and he racked up a 27.5 average on 20 returns.

One thing to keep in mind with these pedestrian numbers, is that LSU is recruiting the best of the best. On an annual basis they are bringing in top 10 recruits at every position. Their backfield was deep, and that's one of the reasons Ford decided to forgo his senior season of eligibility. The guy in front of him on the depth chart was real good.

We talked with the SBNation LSU site, And The Valley Shook, about Ford after he was signed. They didn't sound like they expected him to make much of an impact at the NFL level.

Click here for the full Q&A we did with them, and here are some highlights.

The truth is, Ford was something of a limited player in LSU's offense, which puts a premium on hard runners that will finish and backs that are complete players in terms of every down. Ford was just never that here.

...he never seemed to run for contact as well as a guy with his strength. Yes, Ford was only about 210-215 pounds, but he still struggled to break tackles, even against 180-190-pound cornerbacks.

...he was never much of a receiver or blocker in the passing game.

With 3rd string running back Armando Allen and FB/HB Harvey Unga both nursing injuries, and newcomer Curtis Brinkley giving his playbook a crash course, it'll be Michael Ford that should have some extended action.

If the starters play about a quarter, my guess is Matt Forte will only be with the ones. Michael Bush might get some time with the ones, and maybe a bit into the 2nd quarter. But after that it'll be Ford time. Brinkley may get a few reps, but the coaches will have a lot of tape with Ford in action.

He played special teams at LSU, so that aspect of his game isn't an issue. If Ford can show that his pass protection is adequate, he may be tough to cut.

We'll also have to monitor how his emergence off the bubble will effect Devin Hester. Could Hester's days be numbered in Chicago? A big game by Ford tomorrow night will give the Bears a lot to think about.

What do you think about Ford's chances of sticking on the roster?

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