Rookie Jordan Howard took the practice field Wednesday as the dean of Bears running backs.
Starter Jeremy Langford (ankle) and backup Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring) didn’t participate. Raheem Mostert, promoted from the practice squad a week ago, and Joique Bell, signed a day earlier, were behind Howard in drills.
“It definitely is kinda weird, because I definitely wasn’t expecting this,” Howard said. “I wasn’t expecting injuries like this. I just gotta take it in stride and lead the way Jeremy and Ka’Deem would.”
Howard didn’t play in the Bears’ opener, got three carries in Game 2 and nine more in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. The Bears are intrigued with his rushing skills — he has good feet for a 6-foot, 222-pounder, particularly in tight spaces — but they know the limitations of most rookies.
Langford, who will miss Sunday’s game and more with an ankle injury, played most of the Bears snaps because he was the best pass-blocker. Howard needs to become adequate, fast; he said the most daunting challenge this week was recognizing, pre-snap, when the Lions plan to bring pressure.
“I definitely feel like that’s one of the biggest things because in college the blitzes are not as diverse,” the Indiana alum said. “Here, the defenses are so much more complex in the NFL, so you definitely have to put in the time and effort.”
Bell will do the same this week in trying to digest the Bears’ offense. A solid contributor for the Lions from 2012-15, Bell joked that he didn’t have time for the Bears to pick his brain for information about their next opponent.
“Right now I think they’re trying to feed my brain,” said Bell, who worked out for the Lions last week but wasn’t offered a job. “I think that’s the main purpose right now.”
Asked how long it takes to get comfortable with a new offense, the 5-11, 229-pound Bell smiled.
“We’re about to find out,” he said.
Bell ran for 860 yards and caught 322 yards’ worth of passes in 2014, his best season to date. The 30-year-old never finished a season with less than 286 receiving yards. The Bears could use him as a third-down back, then, in part to keep Howard’s pass protection skills from becoming exploited.
Bell said he’s willing to help wherever the Bears need it. In a different boat, Howard said the same.
“My mindset is just being ready for everything the defense is going to throw at me, throw at us,” Howard said. “And just have great preparation this week.”