Biggs: Bears will use rookie RB Bell more

Rookie running back Kahlil Bell caught the attention of the Chicago Bears with a 72-yard run on the first carry of his career Sunday night in their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.

They want to see more of the young back, but Matt Forte isn’t in danger of losing his position even though he’s mired in a slump. Forte has averaged less than 2.9 yards per carry over the last six games since the Bears’ bye week. The Bears rank 28th in the league running the ball and it’s been a season-long issue fueled by problems with the offensive line, problems with the backs and even quarterback Jay Cutler.

“First off, you know Matt did some good things,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. ``I know his yardage, the rushing total didn’t say that, but I liked the way he hit the holes.’’

Forte had just 34 yards on 14 carries, and he’s on pace for only 826 yards after he set a franchise rookie record with 1,238 last season. To his credit, he has been more involved in the passing game in recent weeks, and is second on the team with 42 receptions for 399 yards. Still, if Bell, an undrafted free agent from UCLA who originally signed with the Minnesota Vikings, can provide a spark, he’s only going to get more playing time.

“You need more than one good running back. We’ve even played three good running backs around here, so to answer your question, I do see Kahlil continuing to be a part of our offense, and with production like that, why not?’’ Smith said.

Bell’s stay with the Vikings was cut short by a sprained ankle, and he was let go. The Bears signed him to their practice squad on Sept. 16. He lacks top speed—the Eagles caught him in his 72-yard run—but Bell clarified his time in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine that it was 4.68 seconds, not 4.78.

“I don’t ever have to run a 40 again,’’ he said. ``I’m happy because I think a lot of that stuff is overhyped and overblown. You see guys who run 4.3’s or 4.4’s and get out there and can’t even make a cut. Or you see guys like Terrell Davis, who is a 4.7 guy at the combine, and his career speaks for itself. If you can put on the pads and you can be a football player, you’re a football player.’’

Whatever the stopwatches said, he’s fast enough to dart 72 yards. That’s the longest run by a Bears running back in 20 years, and it’s the biggest gain for a rookie on his first pro carry since Alan Ameche broke off a 79-yard run in 1955 for the Baltimore Colts.

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