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Bears happy to have vet Jacquizz Rodgers with other RBs ailing

Bears running back Jacquizz Rodgers (AP).

The Bears’ spate of injuries has led to more opportunities for young players since training camp has opened. But at running back, it’s the oldest player in the room who has benefitted.

Jacquizz Rodgers has played more with quarterback Jay Cutler and the first-team offense with starter Jeremy Langford dealing with a sore foot and top reserve Ka’Deem Carey still limited after suffering a concussion.

Rodgers, who is 26 and in his sixth NFL season, hasn’t produced much in two preseason games this year, but the Bears always have been high on him, starting with his prowess on special teams.

Rodgers is considered a more reliable receiver and blocker for third-down situations than some of the Bears’ younger backs. The Bears also re-signed him after he broke his arm last season.

“Quizz was a big part of what we were doing early last year and then he got injured,” coach John Fox said Sunday following practice at Halas Hall. “He’s a real pro’s pro as far as he approaches the game. He’s a leader in that running-back room.

“He’s a big contributor on fourth down [for special teams], as well as a guy who can go in and tote the rock. We didn’t get a lot of looks at that last year, [but] I’ve liked what I’ve seen this year.”

Jeffery vs. the Pats

Receiver Alshon Jeffery sounded happy that he had a few days to practice against feisty Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, who excels in press coverage.

“Coach Fox always says practice like you’re in a game so that will make the game easy,” Jeffery said.

According to Jeffery, his 29-yard catch over Patriots cornerback Justin Coleman on the Bears’ second play Thursday was the result of those practices.

“We were making plays all week in practice,” Jeffery said, “so we thought we’d give it a shot in the game, and it worked out.”

On the return

With Deonte Thompson sidelined by an ankle injury, other receivers will get more opportunities at kick returner.

Veteran Marc Mariani, the No. 1 punter returner, has plenty of experience, but rookies Kieren Duncan and Daniel Braverman also are candidates.

Other than Thompson, Duncan is the only player to return kickoffs this preseason. He returned two for 45 yards against the Patriots.

“You get a chance to look at some other guys,” Fox said. “We’re still looking in both the return games, kick and punt.”