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Updated 3:10 p.m. ET, Sunday, July 29
The Bears were finally able to get a look at their new 1-2 punch at running back when the team gathered to open training camp last week.
Ex-Raider Michael Bush, who signed a four-year deal that included $6.45 million guaranteed in March, ran with the first-team offense during OTAs and minicamp as an unsigned Matt Forté worked out on his own away from the club. Bush will play the role the Bears always had in mind for him — a complementary one — with Forté signing a four-year deal worth just over $18 million guaranteed July 16.
“I don’t know if (Bush) can be a full-time guy, but he’s a great complement to Forté,” one league evaluator told PFW. “He’s punishing. He’s a capable receiver with some speed … a decent pass protector.
“He knows what he is.”
Forté initially appeared to be frustrated with Bush’s signing, sending a tweet saying he felt disrespected as he was still lobbying for a long-term deal to his liking. He later clarified that he had no beef with Bush, tweeting that he embraced the competition and the help.
Bush, who is almost 30 pounds heavier than Forté, is expected to spell Forté on early downs and get the call in short-yardage and goal-line situations. The Bears believe he will be more effective in that role than Marion Barber and Chester Taylor were in recent years. Finding a complement for Forté has been a struggle for the Bears, but they have continued to look for the right fit. That’s because short-yardage and goal-line rushing make up the few weaknesses in Forté’s game.
While it’s hard to believe Bush signed with Chicago thinking he would not be asked to pick up tough yards between the tackles in short-yardage situations, he apparently does not fully embrace the role of short-yardage specialist. He recently told reporters “no one likes to be a battering ram.”
“That’s the role I’ve been stuck with because of my size,” Bush said. “But if that’s what I have to do, it’s what I got to do.”
Bush has said he is a complete back, and he could be a bit player in passing situations, but league evaluators say Forté is both a better pass catcher and pass blocker than Bush.