Kahlil Bell, Armando Allen pushing for Bears’ 3rd RB job
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org August 17, 2012 8:56PM
Denver linebacker Mike Mohammed grabs the jersey of Bears running back Armando Allen to slow him down in the third quarter of the Bears 31-3 loss to the Denver Broncos Thursday August 9, 2012 in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-TimesDenver linebacker Mike Mohammed grabs the jersey of Bears running back Armando Allen to slow him down as Denver linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) moves in for the tackle in the third quarter of the Bears 31-3 loss to the Denver Broncos Thursday August 9, 2012 in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: September 19, 2012 6:13AM
One of the intriguing battles heading into the Bears’ second preseason game against the Washington Redskins today is for the third running back spot.
Both starter Matt Forte and backup Michael Bush are locks to make the 53-man roster, given the healthy investment the Bears have made in both — a combined $24.25 million in guarantees. But nothing’s for sure for Kahlil Bell, Armando Allen and fullbacks Harvey Unga and Tyler Clutts.
Plenty can happen between now and the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. But the Bears may be inclined not to carry a traditional fullback, and there may not be room for four running backs.
Bell clearly has the experience, but could Allen have the edge?
Bush is a complement to Forte, but Allen’s advantage is that he’s vastly different from every other running back on the roster. At 5-8 and 199 pounds, he’s more of a scat back, quick and explosive — an obvious change of pace from the bulldozing Bush and the big-but-still-fast Forte.
‘‘Armando has had a good camp, but I can’t say anything bad about anyone we have,’’ running backs coach Tim Spencer said. ‘‘We’re not going to ask [Allen] to get in there and pound it. But he’s done the things that we need him to do. He’s got good speed and quickness. He’s not a big guy, but he’s tough.’’
Bell has done an admirable job whenever he has had to step into the lineup, averaging a robust 4.7 yards per carry. But in just 79 carries last season, he fumbled three times, though he lost just one. He’s a well-rounded back and scheduled to make $1.26 million in 2012 — if he makes the roster.
Allen, meanwhile, is signed through 2013, with a salary of just $390,000 this season. His most notable performance last year was gaining 40 yards on 11 carries in a 35-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Christmas.
‘‘I think it’s going pretty good right now,’’ Allen said. ‘‘It’s definitely at that point where I’ve got to stay focused and continue to get through the grind and show that I’m mentally tough and prepared.’’
Allen and Bell downplayed any ill will toward one another, insisting the unit is close.
‘‘I look at myself as a starter in this league, and I wait for my opportunity,” Bell said. ‘‘When I come out, I don’t compete against Matt, I don’t compete against Bush. I just try to get better every day. When you start worrying about numbers and things like that, it takes away from your game play. I’m going to be all right no matter what happens.’’
No hard feelings
Running back Cedric Benson, the fourth overall pick of the 2005 draft, has signed a contract with the Green Bay Packers. Benson, 29, who was released by the Bears in 2008 after several off-the-field incidents, rebounded somewhat with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He’d had a tough time landing a job this offseason.
Former Bears teammate Charles Tillman is happy for him.
‘‘I’m glad he got picked up,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘My goal for every player — teammate, ex-teammate, whoever — is to play as long as you can and make as much money as you can because it’s such a short time frame for your life and career. I never had a problem with Cedric.’’