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Bears rookie RB Michael Ford gaining fan base among mates

Chicago Bears running back Michael Ford (32) celebrates after scoring 15-yard touchdown run with Corey Woottduring fourth quarter an NFL

Chicago Bears running back Michael Ford (32) celebrates after scoring on a 15-yard touchdown run with Corey Wootton during the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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Updated: September 26, 2013 6:59AM



Rookie running back Michael Ford is gaining fans every time he plays — especially on his own team.

‘‘I love watching Michael Ford run the football,’’ safety Chris ­Conte said. ‘‘He’s a great runner. He’s strong. He’s fast. I enjoy watching him play, and I think he definitely deserves a spot on the team. I’m excited to see him continue to develop as a player and hopefully it’s with the Bears.’’

Ford, who had a 100-yard kickoff return against the Chargers last week, sparkled again Friday night in the Bears’ 34-26 victory over the Raiders in their third preseason game. The undrafted rookie from LSU gained 58 yards on nine carries, including a spinning, darting 15-yard touchdown that gave the Bears breathing room at 34-20 after the Raiders had closed a 27-0 deficit to 27-20. Ford also had two receptions for 16 yards.

Ford appears to have leapfrogged the injured Armando Allen in the battle for the third running back spot and certainly solidified his hold with another strong performance.

Mr. Versatility

Under Marc Trestman, the Bears are doing everything they can to exploit Matt Forte’s versatility. They opened the game with three tight ends and ran Forte to the right side for a seven-yard gain on first down. (The Bears were 30th in the NFL in average yards gained on first down in 2012.)

On a first-down play later in the quarter, they paired Forte with Michael Bush in the backfield and gave Forte a swing pass that turned into a 32-yard touchdown.

‘‘It was good play-calling,’’ said Forte, who gave credit to Bush. ‘‘The coaches really called the right plays at the right time. That’s something that’s going to help us out, as well as having a lot of talent.’’

Bostic improving

Rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic, looking like the opening-day starter with veteran D.J. Williams still hampered by a calf injury, led the Bears with eight tackles (seven solo), with one tackle for loss.

‘‘I played some run a little bit faster [against the Raiders],’’ Bostic said. ‘‘I was more confident in my run fits, especially when we were playing cover-2.

‘‘I’m not where I want to be. For the season, I’m going to need to be way ahead of where I’m at now. I’ve got to make these adjustments [right away] and make sure there’s carry-over to next week’s game.’’

Frey chips in

Second-year cornerback Isaiah Frey was starting to feel left out when he made an interception in the first half against the Raiders.

‘‘We’re about making turnovers; I had to join that party before preseason’s over,’’ Frey said.

‘‘I’ve got to continue to work and get better.’’

Frey said he’s getting more comfortable at nickel back.

‘‘The game’s slowing down,’’ he said. ‘‘I would say that most times practice is a lot faster than the game.

‘‘The pass rush makes a whole lot of difference. When I’m playing with [Corey] Wootton and [Julius Peppers] and Shea [McClellin] and Nate [Collins] and Stephen [Paea] and Henry [Melton] — those guys get after it, and it makes it a lot easier for me.’’



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