With a new quarterback set to lead the Chicago Bears offense this season, dependability and production will be needed from the running backs to ease the transition. While the top spots on the depth chart are already spoken for, the battle for the remaining jobs will be interesting to watch during training camp. Here's a look at the running backs currently on the Bears' roster.
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The 73rd overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft is firmly entrenched as the Bears' feature back. Despite a slow start last season, Montgomery really got things rolling late and posted his first 1,000-yard season. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and had eight rushing touchdowns. He also contributed 438 receiving yards with two more scores. He's dealt with a few injuries but overall has appeared in 31 games with 22 starts in his first two seasons. Head coach Matt Nagy has already said he thinks Montgomery is capable of handling 20 carries per game.
Cohen will start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list as he's still making his way back from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 3 last season. Cohen's absence was felt by the offense last season, as he's effective as a rusher, receiver, and return man. In four seasons, Cohen has racked up 4,286 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns.
The hope is that Cohen will be medically cleared sooner rather than later so he can take part in training camp. Once he's able to get back on the field, the question then becomes does Cohen still possess the athleticism and explosiveness that earned him the nickname "The Human Joystick?"
Williams didn't play last season, opting out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So he will have to deal with the effects of a long layoff, but there's a reason Chicago signed the former Miami Dolphin and Kansas City Chief in free agency. Williams possesses a similar skill set to Cohen in that he can be used as a runner, receiver or return specialist. In his career, Williams has totaled 1,231 rushing yards, 1,106 receiving yards, 584 kick return yards with 22 total touchdowns across six seasons. A Super Bowl champion with the Chiefs in 2019, Williams' versatility will be valued by Nagy and this should give him a leg up on the younger guys vying for jobs.
An undrafted rookie free agent last year, Pierce began the season on the Bears' practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster in the wake of Cohen's injury and went on to appear in five games. He totaled 34 rushing yards with a touchdown on six carries and caught two passes for 23 yards. The elimination of preseason games last season cost Pierce a chance to really showcase his skill set but he should get that opportunity this time around. But the expected return of Cohen and the addition of Damien Williams means Pierce will be battling others for one of the final roster spots. Pierce could potentially stick around via the practice squad again.
Nall may not exactly stand out in the box scores (eight career rushing yards, 67 receiving yards), but he's found other ways to contribute, which is he's been with the Bears in some capacity over the last three seasons. A practice squad member in 2018, Nall has found his niche as a fullback in some formations and has developed into a consistent contributor on special teams.
The Bears re-signed Nall, who was an exclusive rights free agent, in March, so this could help his chances of staying with the team. Nagy doesn't use fullbacks often so Nall will likely have to continue making an impact on special teams, especially considering the other running backs the team has added to the competition.
A sixth-round pick in this year's draft, Herbert ran for 1,183 yards in his one season at Virginia Tech after transferring from Kansas. He also posted 430 kick return yards for the Hokies last year, so he could get a shot at returning kicks during the preseason. The Bears love Herbert's skill set and he should get plenty of opportunities in the preseason, but as a late-round draft pick he will need to earn his roster spot.
Marable just finished a productive career at Coastal Carolina (3,394 total yards from scrimmage, 41 TDs) but as an undrafted free agent, he probably has the longest odds of making the final roster. He did make a strong impression in rookie minicamp in May but now the hard work begins.