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Chicago Bears running backs and how we got here: Matt Forte backups

With Matt Forte injured, the Bears turn to rookie running back Jeremy Langford -- the first Forte backup to start a game in three seasons. We take a look at Forte's backups since his first career game in 2008, because we're masochists, and we need to know.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Matt Forte likely would have won the Bears starting running back spot even if Cedric Benson hadn't gotten arrested twice in 35 days for DUI, once by land, once by sea. But it definitely moved things along.

Arrest #1 came on Benson's motorboat, the first Saturday of May 2008, seven days after the Bears used a second-round pick on Forte. Arrest #2 was drunk driving in Austin, Tex. during the first week of June. The team released him three days later, handing the RB job to the rookie from Tulane.

Forte ran for 123 yards in his regular season debut, including a 50-yard touchdown to open the season's scoring. Since then he's bagged five 1,000-yard seasons, two Pro Bowls and more rushing yards than any Bears player not named Payton. (More receptions too.)

In eight seasons, he's also only missed five games. Monday will be his sixth. Subbing in: rookie Jeremy Langford, Forte's first backup to start a game since 2012. A quick look at the men who've been behind 22 on the depth chart, ranked on a scale of 1 to The-Rookie-Forte-Just-Broke-A-50-Yard-Touchdown-Run-In-His-First-Game!

Adrian Peterson, Summer 2008

When the Bears released Benson and ostensibly made Forte the starter, the man who came to be known as The Other Adrian Peterson was Forte's backup. Peterson's sixth season in the NFL, all with the Bears, had been his best: career highs in attempts (151), yards (510), touchdowns (3), receptions (51, second on team) and receiving yards (420, 4th).

In 2008, Peterson ended up the third stringer, getting fewer carries (20) than Kyle Orton (24) and continuing his stellar special teams coverage play with 11 tackles.

MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE: 3 out of 10

Kevin Jones, 2008
34 carries, 109 yards, no touchdowns

A first-round pick in 2004, Kevin Jones played four years with Detroit, signed with the Bears in July 2008, went scoreless on 34 carries in 2008, landed funny on his left ankle on a preseason run in 2009, tore a ligament, missed the 2009 season, was released, and never played in the NFL again.

In the words of Forrest Gump: "And that's all I got to say about that."

MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE: 2 out of 10

Garrett Wolfe and then Kahlil Bell, 2009
Wolfe: 22 carries, 120 yards, 1 touchdown
Bell: 40 carries, 200 yards, no touchdowns

Because Forte did not miss a game until his 2011 knee injury, opportunities behind him were scant. The third-year back Wolfe spent the first half of the season as his backup, got injured, and was replaced by Kahlil Bell, an undrafted rookie from UCLA who was promoted from the practice squad. His first carry as a pro went for 72 yards against the Eagles. It looked like this:

Check out Johnny Knox!

MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE: 5 out of 10

Chester Taylor, 2010
112 carries, 267 yards, 3 touchdowns, 20 receptions, 139 yards

After two years of guess-and-check, the Bears got proactive, signing former Vikings starter Chester Taylor two a four-year, $12.5 million deal. Taylor earned one start -- a dual-RB backfield in Week 3 -- but was used in short yardage, scoring 3 touchdowns to Forte's 6. Taylor also scored in each of the Bears' two playoff games; Forte received the bulk of the carries but no touchdowns.

MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE: 7 out of 10

Marion Barber III, 2011
114 carries, 422 yards, 6 touchdowns

I don't want to do this one. Do I have to do this one? (pause) They're saying I have to.

Marion Barber. Pro Bowler in 2007 with Dallas. Released by the Cowboys. Signs with the Bears. Two years, $4.5 million.

And you know, pretty good year. Does a post-TD backflip that almost lands. Scores five of his six touchdowns prior to Matt Forte landing on IR -- easily the best 1-2 RB punch of the Forte era.

So what happens. You're reading Windy City Gridiron, so I'll go on a limb and guess you remember. Bears are 7-5 riding a two-game losing streak but are leading the Broncos 10-7 with under two minutes to go. Barber's been the man: he would end up with a touchdown and 108 yards, the first time a Forte backup hit the century mark.

Now all he needed to do was stay in bounds. He did this instead. (Warning: Unsettling material.)

Bears punt, Broncos tie the game with no time remaining ON A 59-YARD FIELD GOAL. I reach for the gin. I opened it after Barber fumbled in overtime. I started drinking it when we lost in OT on another 50-yard field goal.

MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE PRE-FINAL DRIVE, 4TH QUARTER OF BRONCOS GAME: 10 out of 10
MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE POST-BRONCOS GAME: 1 out of 10


Michael Bush, 2012-2013
177 carries, 608 yards, 8 touchdowns

One day before Barber retired, the Bears signed their third straight free agent #2 running back, inking Oakland's Michael Bush for $14 million over four years, with $7 million guaranteed. Though he later said the Bears didn't use him correctly, I for one never had a problem with his usage. The Bears turned him into a short-yardage specialist who scored seven touchdowns inside the 3.

MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE: 8 out of 10

Ka'Deem Carey, 2014
36 carries, 158 yards, no touchdowns

Carey, a fourth-round rookie, showed signs of a burst last season, gaining 72 yards against Green Bay, 19 against the Falcons and 33 vs. New England. But there was no breaking past Forte, who played 92% of season's offensive snaps, scored 10 touchdowns and set an NFL record for receptions in a season by a running back.

MATT FORTE DEBUT TOUCHDOWN SCALE: 2 out of 10

***

Links for your enjoyment

Benson and his boat -- Tribune

Benson released -- Daily HeraldESPN

Jones signs -- TribuneAssociated Press

Jones released -- ESPN

Taylor signs -- ESPN

Barber signs -- SB Nation

Taylor released? -- Yahoo

Taylor released -- ESPN

Barber retires -- ESPN

Bush signed -- Tribune

Bush released -- ESPN