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Ka’Deem Carey poised to be Matt Forte’s understudy with Bears

Arizonrunning back Ka'Deem Carey runs drill NFL football scouting combine Indianapolis Sunday Feb. 23 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) ORG XMIT:

Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) ORG XMIT: INMC10

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When: Friday-Sunday at Halas Hall.

What: Closed-to-the-public practices for Bears draftees, undrafted free agents and those invited for tryouts.

All signed: The Bears became the first team to sign all their draft picks Thursday, inking third-round pick Will Sutton, a defensive tackle from Arizona State.

Updated: May 16, 2014 11:06AM

He left the only home he’d ever known at dawn Thursday, racing the sun as it rose over the Rincon Mountains and onto the desert floor.

The last five days had been a blur.

The Bears drafted Ka’Deem Carey in the fourth round Saturday. He signed his contract Monday afternoon — and, that night, got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Missy Rambow.

Carey said goodbye to family and friends in Tucson, Arizona, where he grew up and played high school and college ball, earning All-America honors the last two seasons as Arizona’s running back.

“It’s going to be a change,” he said, driving to the airport at
5:45 a.m. Thursday after sleeping four hours. “I’m looking forward to it.”

The Bears are, too.

Carey, the first running back they’ve drafted since Matt Forte in 2008, will arrive at rookie mini-camp Friday as the favorite to back up Forte.

“[Forte] has his whole different style,” Carey said. “I’m so excited to work behind him.”

Carey proved worthy in college with a school-record 4,239 rushing yards in three seasons.

He had a conference-record 366 yards on 25 carries against Colorado in 2012 and was the nation’s leading rusher that season. He finished third in 2013.

He was a viral video star at 14, leaping over a defender at the goal line, performing a front flip and landing on his feet for a two-point conversion in a freshman game.

When he was in high school, pundits wondered if his violent running style would betray his body in college. It never did, though entering the draft one year early will save wear and tear.

“I knew I had to support my family,” he said. “I knew it was time. I wanted no more hits on my body.”

Still, Carey said, “I like contact. I like to deliver hits.”

The Bears sent offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, running backs coach Skip Peete and national scout Mark Sadowski to visit Carey the week before the draft.

They came away satisfied with questions, on and off the field, about Carey.

He was suspended for the first game last season after a tumultuous offseason. Carey was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct after an incident with Rambow, though charges were dropped later, and was ejected from a basketball game after ­arguing with staffers.

His 4.7-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine contributed to him being the 11th running back drafted, too.

“I knew it was a perfect fit,” Carey said of the Bears. “We connected as coaches and as a player.

“I know that we bonded and that we had something.”

The Bears operate out of spread or shotgun formations about three-quarters of the time, Carey said, which should mesh well with his experience in Rich Rodriguez’s ­offense.

He’s excited, too, to run in short-yardage situations.

“I haven’t been in the I-formation since Pop Warner,’’ he said.

“I know I can do a lot of things — make some magic happen.”

It did Monday.

Carey hid the wedding ring around the house for three months, waiting for the perfect moment.

When he and Rambow were sitting in their 10-month-old son’s nursery, Carey looked at the clock: It read 11:25 p.m.

The minutes matched his jersey number at Arizona and with the Bears.

Carey retrieved the ring, hidden in plain sight, from the book bag hanging on the door and dropped to a knee.

“I was waiting for the right time,” he said. “This was the right time.”


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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