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Bears RB Jeremy Langford bulks up for possible bigger workload

Bears RB Jeremy Langford. (AP)

BOURBONNAIS — Bears running back Jeremy Langford isn’t sure how to describe his situation. But ‘‘feeling the pressure’’ might fall short of encapsulating it.

Langford is the front runner in what the Bears think will be a fierce competition to replace Matt Forte. He not only has to follow in the footsteps of a beloved former player for a franchise known for its running backs, but he also must hold off Ka’Deem Carey, Jordan Howard and Jacquizz Rodgers, who are vying to take snaps away from him.

‘‘The pressure, it’s really just going out and playing,’’ Langford said after the Bears’ first day of practice Thursday at Olivet Nazarene University. ‘‘It’s football. The competition we have in that [running-backs] room, it’s enough pressure for anybody just to be able to turn it up a notch.

‘‘I just know that we’ve got a lot of guys in that room capable of being the running back for the Chicago Bears.”

The Bears will feature a wave of backs this season. They aren’t expecting one back to replace Forte.

‘‘You can’t replace him; you can’t replace him in a year, anyway,’’ quarterback Jay Cutler said of Forte. ‘‘We’ve got a good group of young backs that we’re going to develop, and we’re going to put as much time as we can into those guys. They’ll get there. It’s a good group. It’s a talented group.’’

Langford sounds determined to prove he’s the best option for most situations, just as Forte was during his eight seasons with the Bears. He has heeded his coaches’ recent calls to work on being a more consistent receiver and trustworthy blocker.

‘‘I know they’re trying to a find a guy who can help them win the best,’’ Langford said. ‘‘That’s really the mindset going in. I want to be that guy.’’

To that end, Langford said he has gained ‘‘healthy weight’’ and added bulk to handle a more rigorous workload. He’s at 217 pounds and said he plans to be ‘‘a solid 215’’ after fluctuating between 210 and 215 last season.

‘‘I expect a couple of more carries, so I put a little more armor on me,’’ Langford said.

It’s making sure he makes the most of those carries that matters most right now. Every back will get an opportunity with the starters during camp.

Langford said the Bears will have ‘‘a tough, run-the-ball mindset’’ this season, especially with guard Kyle Long and tackle Bobby Massie on the right side.

With a more athletic line overall, the Bears might feature more zone-blocking runs. That might lead to more cutbacks and lanes for big gains.

Langford’s breakaway speed is what separates him from the Bears’ other backs. It’s also a distinct edge he has over Forte at this point in their careers.

‘‘[Last season], I think I showed glimpses of what I’m capable of — my versatility, being able to catch the ball out of the backfield, line up at receiver and make that big play,’’ said Langford, who totaled 816 yards and scored seven touchdowns on 170 touches in 2015.

‘‘The thing I think I showed the most was that I have big-play ability. I feel I can get better at that and make big plays from running the ball and not just catches and screens.’’

The Bears need that.

‘‘Being able to play with Matt like we did and being able to learn from him like we did is a good thing,’’ Langford said. ‘‘But he knows how the business goes, and everybody else knows how the business goes.

‘‘It’s just good to [have a chance] to be the Chicago Bears’ starting running back.’’