Bears RB Jeremy Langford scores vs. the Rams. (AP)

Youth Gone Wild: Bears RB Jeremy Langford the real deal

SHARE Youth Gone Wild: Bears RB Jeremy Langford the real deal
SHARE Youth Gone Wild: Bears RB Jeremy Langford the real deal

ST. LOUIS – Bears center Matt Slauson released his block, looked up and saw nobody. Or as he put it, “it was like a ghost town out there.”

“So I’m trying to find work,” Slauson said.

And when he did, rookie running back Jeremy Langford was gone – as in long gone.

Slauson squashed the pursuit of cornerback Trumaine Johnson on a perfectly timed screen play against the Rams’ blitzing linebackers in the second quarter. It sprung Langford for an 83-touchdown in the Bears’ 37-13 throttling of their hosts at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on Sunday.

“And then Jeremy is just fast as crap,” Slauson said.

And Langford is patient. Langford said he slowed down to allow Slauson and guards Vladimir Ducasse and Patrick Omameh to set up their blocks.

“You’ve got to set the linemen up against a smaller player,” Langford said. “I tried to do that best that I could.

“When I saw the linebackers start to blitz, I knew if the ball got me, it would be green grass back there.”

It was another impressive outing for Langford, and this time it came against a more impressive opponent. Unlike the Chargers’ defense, the Rams’ was touted. They were the seven-point favorites with all the high-round talent and in the top 10 for total defense, passing defense and points allowed.

And it turned out to be a historic day for Langford as he accomplished something that Matt Forte never has in his career. Langford finished with 27 touches for 182 total yards (109 receiving) and two touchdowns, which included a six-yard run in the fourth quarter. According to the NFL, Langford joined Walter Payton and Gale Sayers as the only Bears with 100-plus receiving yards, a rushing touchdown and a touchdown reception in one game.

The Bears could have running-back controversy of sorts to talk through soon enough. Forte didn’t travel to St. Louis to care for his sprained right knee, but he still remains the unquestioned starter. The problem is that Langford has proven to be worth significant touches. His explosiveness and big-play ability should no longer simply complement what Forte does.

“We felt like he was one of those guys we had to contend with,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

In the past two weeks, Langford has outperformed two first-round running backs: the Rams’ Todd Gurley (10th overall) and Chargers’ Melvin Gordon (15th overall). Langford has produced 324 yards of offense and three touchdowns on 48 touches in the Bears’ back-to-back wins. In other words, he’s a big reason why the Bears are 4-5.

Sunday also provided more signs of the Bears’ belief in Langford. On third-and-10 at St. Louis’ 47 in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jay Cutler checked to a pitch play and Langford ran for an 11-yard gain. It was the biggest play of a drive that consumed six minutes, 17 seconds through the third and fourth quarters.

“I feel like in the last game [in San Diego] I left a lot of yards on the field,” Langford said. “I wanted to come out here and do a little bit better and keep getting better from game to game and get more yards after contact.”

Making matters more interesting in the Bears’ backfield is that second-year back Ka’Deem Carey complemented Langford well. Carey had 14 carries for 56 yards. Counting Cutler’s 26-yard read-option keeper, the Bears ran for 153 net yards against the Rams, who were allowing 104 per game before Sunday.

“We knew going into this game that they wanted to be the bullies,” Carey said. “I don’t like that. I like being the bully.

“[Our offensive line] started bullying them. They didn’t like it. That’s when they started talking and started doing some cheap shots.

“But our offensive line got on them pretty good today and opened up some holes for me and Langford.”

Big plays were made.

“I feel truly blessed to be in this situation,” Langford said. “I’m really just doing my best to help the team win.”

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

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