Bears RBs ‘better be lit up’ by rookie Jordan Howard’s arrival
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It’s not a long run or a quick move to elude a linebacker that Bears running backs coach Stan Drayton immediately recalls from rookie Jordan Howard’s season at Indiana.
‘‘You saw people not wanting to tackle him,’’ Drayton said.
Howard’s performance against Michigan — 35 carries, 238 yards and three total touchdowns against the Wolverines’ eighth-ranked run defense last season — is one of a few that resonated with the Bears.
‘‘We’re very excited about the skill set that he does bring to the table,’’ Drayton said during the Bears’ rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. ‘‘He is a power runner, which makes him different than everybody else in that [running backs] room.’’
Every other back ‘‘better be lit up’’ by Howard’s arrival, Drayton said.
‘‘I can’t sit here and say that there’s one guy doing everything great,’’ Drayton said. ‘‘But I do have a bunch of guys with their own individual skill sets that are going to be productive for us on offense. But everybody better be locked and loaded every single day, there is no doubt about it.’’
It’s a message not only meant for top reserve Ka’Deem Carey, whom Drayton praised for his powerful running style and passion, but presumed starter Jeremy Langford. The Bears want a backfield-by-committee, but it’s a committee that will be determined by results.
The scaled-back praise for Langford was noticeable this weekend, whether it was coming from coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains or Drayton. There seemed to be a concerted effort to set a high bar for Langford, regardless of the 816 yards he totaled and seven touchdowns he scored as a rookie last season.
Every bit of motivation helps, apparently. The Bears didn’t want to re-sign revered veteran Matt Forte, but they know replacing him and everything he did well will take more from Langford and everyone.
‘‘[Langford] showed just enough to keep us excited and also showed enough that . . . he needs to work and get better,’’ Loggains said. ‘‘There [are] a lot of areas [he can improve], just like every one of our players. We can catch the ball better. With more reps, that stuff is going to come out, as well.’’
Drayton echoed the sentiment.
‘‘With a guy who has a skill set as a former receiver in college and that whole deal, [Langford has] got to be better at catching the football,’’ he said. ‘‘And he knows that.’’
Howard, meanwhile, caught only 11 passes in his season at Indiana, but he said that was a result of the Hoosiers’ offensive scheme. He thinks he can excel as a receiver, and the Bears see potential, too. The same applies to handling pass-protection assignments.
‘‘I feel like I can be involved in the pass game,’’ Howard said.
But it’s his power as a runner that will push Langford and Carey for playing time. The Bears view it as a valuable complement to Langford, who is faster.
If Howard excels, though, it will be Langford’s speed that might become complementary.
‘‘We wanted to bring some power to the offense, a guy who can play past contact, get in a four-minute situation and wear a defense down,’’ Drayton said. ‘‘We feel, in time, that this kid will be able to do that for us.’’
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