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Bears eyeing CFL running back?

Could the Bears be looking to the north for the first person to provide competition general manager Jerry Angelo has promised for running back Cedric Benson?

The Metro News of Toronto reports that the Bears and New York Jets have offered contracts to running back Joe Smith, of the British Columbia Lions of the CFL. Smith set a Lions franchise record with 1,510 yards this past season, scoring 18 touchdowns. In two seasons with BC, hes totaled 2,397 yards with 27 scores and a 5.4-yard per carry average.

Smith originally was an undrafted free agent from Louisiana Tech who hooked up with Jacksonville. The 27-year-old has also spent time with Tampa Bay and Tennessee before finding a niche in the CFL. Smith, 6-1, 224 pounds also played in NFL Europe for the Rhein Fire.

Angelo said in his end-of-season press conference Thursday that he still believed Benson could be a feature back, but that competition was in the works for the former No. 4 overall pick. One would think that would mean more than Smith, but the Bears have always been diligent in scouting all ranks. Two-time Pro Bowl special teams performer Brendon Ayanbadejo played in the CFL. Wide receiver Rashied Davis was originally an Arena League standout.