Welcome to the second of our 12-part series as we get you ready for Bears Training Camp 2022 by looking at each position group on the depth chart, special teams and the new coaching staff.
We’ll bring you brief scouting reports with pluses and minuses for every notable player, how each group stacks up against the rest of the NFL, projected potential surprises and disappointments, the final 53-man roster and likely practice squad keepers.
Part 2 – Running backs
Running back is the most settled position on the Bears’ roster and has an edge for the moment over the secondary as the most talented.
It is also, however, very young, and the depth is still somewhat unproven with Nos. 2, 3 and 4 on the depth chart having only three combined seasons of experience, and will have a much different look with the addition of a true fullback.
Montgomery was a top-four back in combined yards from scrimmage in 2020 along with Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara. He was two spots ahead of Aaron Jones, the lead back in the Packers’ offense while new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was there.
He was on pace to be at least top eight again last year had he not missed 4½ games because of a knee injury.
Montgomery (5-foot-10, 220 pounds) has perfect size, tremendous lower body strength and power, is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and lacks only elite speed.
In a contract year, he will be the focal point of the offense and likely to take advantage of it.
Biggest plus: In addition to great talent, Montgomery has emerged as a team leader with a tremendous drive to win.
Biggest concern: Will his lack of speed – 3.9-yard career average per carry – limit his production?
Herbert was a pleasant rookie surprise last season filling in when Montgomery went down and even taking a few carries away from him when he came back.
[ Top 25 most important Bears in 2022: No. 23 Khalil Herbert ]
He is a bit smaller than Montgomery but has the same body type, running style and strong base and power.
Herbert showed signs of being a capable receiver, and he was effective returning kickoffs.
Biggest plus: Herbert can start when called on or can be effective in a two-back tandem.
Biggest concern: We haven’t seen enough yet to be sure.
A free-agent pickup from the Tenneesee Titans, Blasingame is the Bears’ first pure fullback I can remember since Jason McKie, and every offensive disciple of Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur – like Getsy – has one.
[ Top 25 most important Bears in 2022: No. 20 Khari Blasingame ]
Biggest plus: He is a pure blocker for his backs and Fields with only three rushes and 10 receptions in 32 NFL games.
Biggest concern: Blasingame (6-0, 233) is a bit undersized for the role.
Evans (5-10, 203) was a third-round pick of the Titans in 2020 but got buried on the depth chart behind Henry, D’Onta Foreman and Jeremy McNichols.
He is the smallest of the Bears’ top three, but he does have top RB speed at 4.41 in the 40. He never once put the ball on the ground in 482 carries at Appalachian State.
Biggest plus: His speed could provide an excellent change of pace from Montgomery and Herbert.
Biggest concern: Why did the Titans quit on him after two seasons?
This year’s comp to Herbert coming in the sixth round of the draft, scouts called him the Swiss Army knife with interesting size (5-11, 206) and 4.43 speed in the 40 to go along with excellent production at Baylor running, receiving and returning kicks and punts.
He’s the prototypical third-down back and will be in a clear competition with Evans to get those reps when Montgomery needs a blow.
Biggest plus: He fills multiple roles, possibly saving a roster spot or two for prospects at other positions.
Biggest concern: Counting on rookie sixth-round picks is unwise.
Tuggle (5-8, 206) has 4.55 speed and is an undrafted rookie free agent out of Ohio University.
Where they fit in NFL: Montgomery alone has them pressing to crack the top 10. How much help they get from the offensive line, Getsy’s new scheme and who the young backups become will determine the rest.
Potential: The run game will be featured so heavily in Getsy’s scheme and used to protect and assist Fields; if the offensive line is improved, it could be one of the most productive groups in the league.
Surprises: Based on his first three seasons, determination and drive and his being in a contract season, my gut is telling me Montgomery will be going to his first Pro Bowl.
Disappointments: Although it feels unlikely, it’s quite possible all but Montgomery could prove to be nothing more than just guys.
Outcome: Montgomery, Herbert and Ebner will end up 1, 2 and 3, Blasingame will prove to be a valuable addition, and that could force Evans to the practice squad.