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Don’t count out Ryan Nall in Bears’ backfield

After making progress since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018, Nall could be on the right side of the roster bubble — with an opportunity to help fill the void of David Montgomery’s absence.

Chicago Bears v Indianapolis Colts
Bears running back Ryan Nall (35) had a 69-yard run against the Colts in the preseason last year. He also had a 32-yard touchdown run against the Bills in the 2018 preseason.
Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

It’s just another roster-bubble weekend for Bears running back Ryan Nall.

‘‘A lot of video games,’’ Nall said. ‘‘Sitting in the hotel room, kind of just decompressing and reflecting over camp. Usually I have my wife come out with me, and I kind of take my mind off football for a little bit and spend some time with her and have some downtime, recovery time, and hope for the best.’’

Nall didn’t make the 53-man roster cut the previous two seasons, though he made the practice squad each time. This year, either Nall or former Oregon State teammate Artavis Pierce figures to get the fourth running back spot behind David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson. And with Montgomery injured, there’s a chance both might make it.

And roster-bubble weekend comes with a little more intrigue this time. With Montgomery injured and likely to miss the first game, if not more, Nall might get an opportunity to help fill that void. Nobody else behind Montgomery has the size and experience in coach Matt Nagy’s offense to fill the role.

‘‘We have a lot of trust in Ryan,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘[It’s] a credit to our personnel staff in finding him. He’s earned his way on to this team via special teams and as a role player. Now he’s starting to grow more and more. So that trust factor we have with him, we can do some different things.’’

Nall signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2018 because they promised him the opportunity to play running back, whereas other teams wanted him in a fullback/H-back role. He might not be the next Phillip Lindsay, who went from undrafted free agent to the Pro Bowl with the Broncos in 2018, but he thinks he is.

‘‘You’ve gotta be a confident person,’’ Nall said. ‘‘If you’re not confident in yourself, you shouldn’t be here in the first place. Coaches know that, I know that, I have faith in myself and I believe they have faith in me. If not, I don’t think I would be in the position I am.

‘‘So if it does come down to where David gets hurt and I end up having more touches, [I have] 100 percent confidence in myself that I’m gonna be the best back I can be.’’

Nall has increased his value by playing some fullback in camp, but he isn’t without some NFL credentials at running back. He had a 32-yard touchdown run in the preseason against the Bills in 2018. He had a 69-yard run against the Colts in the preseason last year. And after being promoted to the 53-man roster at midseason last year, he had two carries for eight yards in the season finale against the Vikings.

While Nall remains a long shot, he’s making progress. And it helps that he embraces his special-teams role while waiting for his running back opportunity. Sometimes that’s how you get the opportunity.

‘‘I know [special-teams coach Chris Tabor] really likes him,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘He’s going into his third year, and that’s a credit to him because he never worried about the other stuff. He didn’t count numbers. He just did everything he could to become a better running back and a better special-teams player. When you have that, it really helps you out.’’