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Chicago Bears 2023 Position Battles: The running back room seems set

In this 11-part training camp preview, we’ll go position by position examining the players on the Chicago Bears 90-man roster and their chances to make the team.

Buffalo Bills v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears running back room is deep and talented, and there’s a good chance they outperform last year’s group of backs. Chicago’s two-headed tailback monster in 2022 (David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert) ran for 1,532 yards, caught 43 balls for 373 yards, and scored 11 total touchdowns. The Bears seem set to trot out a Cerberus-like group of tailbacks this season, and if all goes according to plan, there’ll be a fresh set of legs all game long.

Roster Locks

Herbert returns after an offseason spent working to improve in the passing game, especially his blocking. “You got to be an every-down back so that’s a big part of it,” Herbert said after an OTA via the Bearswire. “That’s something I’ve worked on throughout this offseason. I don’t know compared to the other guys, but that’s something that I’ve been working on to fix.”

Being trustworthy on third down was a hole in his game that prevented him from logging more snaps in his first two years in Chicago. He said he was boxing to work on the timing of when to throw his hands to meet a pass rusher. If his blitz recognition and pass block technique is better, he could be the “lead” back, although the Bears will be playing them all.

If Herbert is the home run threat, then D’Onta Foreman is the hammer at 6’, 235 pounds. He worked through some injury issues early in his career, but the last two years he was productive down the stretch for the Titans and Panthers. In 2021 he worked his way off Tennessee’s practice squad and replaced an injured Derrick Henry, then last year he took over as the lead back when Carolina traded Christian McCaffrey.

Many analysts called Roschon Johnson one of the steals of the draft, partly because of his all-around skill set as a runner, receiver, pass blocker, and special teamer, but also for the intangibles.

“Doing our research prior to the draft, he fit the culture that we have here, and that hasn’t changed in the two days he’s been here,” running backs coach David Walker said at rookie minicamp via the team’s site. “He’s a smart, conscientious kid. He works hard and he’s going to be the best version of himself every day. Can’t ask for much more than that.”

The Bears had four tailbacks on the roster for much of the 2022 season, and I think that will happen again in 2023. They gave Travis Homer a two-year deal with more guaranteed money than Foreman, so I think he’s a lock. He’ll have a role on special teams, but Seattle used him as their designated third down back due to his ability as a pass blocker in 2022, so he’ll find a few reps on Chicago’s offense too.

A good bet to make it

The Bears had fullback Khari Blasingame on the roster all last year, and besides playing on half of their third-phase snaps, he also saw the field for 174 offensive plays. He’ll have some competition, but as the returning veteran, the position is his to lose.

On the bubble

Rookie fullback Robert Burns is a good athlete, but unless Blasingame is injured, I think Burns’ best chance could be the practice squad. The practice squad also seems likely for second-year pro Trestan Ebner. I thought Ebner had a nice third-down skill set, but he looked unsure as a rookie.

How many backs do you think the Bears open the season with?