Bruising running back Ka’Deem Carey thinks the Bears’ backfield rotation is ‘Beautiful’
BOURBONNAIS – There was no official declaration, no designation on a depth chart or even a No. 1 on his helmet as he trotted out to the practice field at Olivet Nazarene University over the past week.
But in the eyes of the fans and perhaps some of the coaches, the top guy to replace #22 in the Bears’ backfield is wearing #33.
Jeremy Langford earned himself that distinction when Matt Forte was forced out of the lineup for three games last season and when the longtime running back needed a rest. The rookie from Michigan State reached the endzone seven times as he rushed for 537 yards and caught 22 passes out of the backfield.
Those are the same qualities Forte showcased in his eight years in Chicago so when the Bears parted ways with him early in the offseason, Langford seems the easy replacement at the top of the depth chart.
“Mentally I feel like I’m ready to go,” said Langford this week when asked about carrying the ball more in 2016. “But football is all a process.”
That includes the vetting of the rest of the running backs that are currently on the Bears roster. That includes three others who will likely have a say in who carries the ball this fall.
Rookie Jordan Howard out of Indiana is the youngest of the top contenders as the fifth round pick in this spring's draft comes off a 1,213 yard season which he averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Jacquizz Rodgers will enter his sixth NFL season though comes off an injury-shortened 2015 campaign where he played in just five games.
In the middle is Ka'Deem Carey, who took over Rodgers' carries after he went on Injured Reserve and made his own mark on the Bears offense. He'll is in his third season with the Bears and has his own hopes of seeing an increase in carries.
What does he think of all this competition to get the handoffs from Jay Cutler?
"It's beautiful," said Carey in a bit of a unusual answer for the often gruff world of football.
What would make him say that?
"Because we are here to win games," said Carey. "You don't want to take a back out when he's feeling himself and doing good for the team. We have good backs here, so whoever has that hot hand is going to have that hot hand."
How can Carey get as many chances as possible to make that happen this year? Perhaps its because his play isn't exactly beautiful but rather hard-nosed.
John Fox caught a few people off guard at the NFL Combine in February when he specifically pointed out Carey for his toughness in one of the memorable quotes for the week in Indianapolis.
"We're here and sometimes a lot gets put into height, weight, speed, 40, and a lot of times it's hard to measure what's behind that left nipple and between your ears. I think he's a guy that after contact is pretty special," said Fox to reporters on February 26th. "I enjoy watching him run."
Kyle Long even mentioned Carey's running style this winter, telling ESPN "I don't see Ka'Deem's runs, I hear them." His more physical style helped him to 159 yards last season, averaging 3.7 yards per carry that included two goal line touchdowns in the second half of the season.
Carey views the physicality as an advantage not just for himself but the fellow running backs that would spell him during a game.
"I take a lot of pride in that," said Carey of the physical aspect of his game. "I feel like in the time over a game the defense wears down off that. They don't always come down and deliver that blow on you so I think it takes a beating on a defensive player. You get me after a while, me after a while than "Jerem" goes in there and puts a move on that safety because he thinks he wants to deliver the big hit and he goes for 60.
"It's big, I like it."
It's beautiful too. At least Carey thinks so.