BEARS IN BRIEF: Martz sees possible Taylor-Forte combo
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org
On the first day of free agency, the Bears signed running back Chester Taylor to a four-year contract that includes $7 million in guarantees.
The Bears talked about a one-two punch at running back, featuring Taylor and Matt Forte. But the run has largely been an afterthought, and Taylor's opportunities have been limited through seven games.
Coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday that his offense needs to run the ball more, but also needs to get the two players more involved, in general.
''Just getting the ball into our playmakers' hands, and of course, those are two of them,'' Smith said.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz took it one step further, noting he'd like to get them on the field together. Thus far, the Bears have fielded two running backs (not necessarily Forte and Taylor) on a play only nine times, according to ESPN Chicago.
''We've got to get them in the game more together,'' Martz said. ''That's a neat opportunity for us. We've explored a little bit of that. Those are all things that we look at over the bye week.''
Taylor isn't going to get too excited just yet.
''All we can do is wait and see and take their word for it,'' Taylor said. ''We've got to just wait until the game time to see if that's going to really happen.''
Taylor's reservations are valid; the Bears' run-pass balance has been slanted heavily toward the pass (58 to 42 percent for the run) this season. The numbers are even worse if you subtract quarterback Jay Cutler's 16 run attempts.
''We want our best players on the field,'' Taylor said. ''And I believe we could get the defense off guard with that.''
Cutler said he was all for giving the ball more to his two backs.
''We've got to get those guys the ball,'' he said. ''They're playmakers out there, and good things happen when we get the ball to Chester and Matt in open space. So it's something we have to do.''
Rest for Cutler
Cutler got a partial day off during Wednesday's wind-blown practice at Halas Hall.
Martz said the decision wasn't injury-related but instead a chance to rest the quarterback.
''Always during the bye week, even though he feels great, like a pitcher, any rest you can give them will pay dividends down the stretch,'' Martz said. ''Even though he feels good, his body needs the rest. He'll throw a little bit tomorrow. It also gives us a chance to look at Caleb [Hanie] and Todd [Collins] and get them going again.''
Smith said the bye will give injured players such as linebackers Lance Briggs (ankle) and Brian Urlacher (groin) time to heal.
''When we play next week we feel like we'll have most of our guys ready to go, if not all,'' Smith said.
Contributing: Neil Hayes