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Bears RB Marion Barber impressive in debut

MariBarber had seven carries for 45 yards Saturday against Bills Soldier Field. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Marion Barber had seven carries for 45 yards Saturday against the Bills at Soldier Field. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 19, 2011 3:07AM

Hard-running Marion Barber gave the Bears’ offense a spark that was hard to miss Saturday. Maybe it was just coincidence, but when he entered the game, big holes started opening for him to run through.

After the Bears gained two net yards on their first nine plays from scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field, Barber had rushes of 11, 12 and 11 yards among his first five carries — all against the Bills’ first-team defense. Taking advantage of room to run, Barber broke tackles with regularity to lead the Bears on a nine-play, 52-yard touchdown drive that gave them a 7-3 lead.

Barber finished with 45 yards on seven carries (6.4 yards per carry). Chester Taylor, Barber’s main competition for playing time behind Matt Forte, gained three yards on three carries.

‘‘That’s what we’re used to; that’s how he ran in Dallas,’’ said Forte, who didn’t have a carry and caught one pass for zero yards in limited play. ‘‘I wouldn’t expect anything different.’’

Even defensive players noticed the difference Barber made.

‘‘Just his attitude. He’s hungry for a fresh start,’’ defensive tackle Matt Toeaina said. ‘‘I like the fire in him. He’s very enthusiastic. You can tell; everybody can see it. After a big run, you can see him celebrating. We
really like that.’’

Another newcomer, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, also received early playing time and parlayed an aggressive effort into two sacks. He was credited with one when he chased Brad Smith out of bounds, but he used a nice inside move to tackle backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen for the other.

‘‘It felt great,’’ Okoye said. ‘‘I can’t wait until the regular season gets here. Putting that jersey on, the
atmosphere, getting on that field — it’s back to football. And being a Bear felt good. Real good.’’

Wide receiver Roy Williams, the most heralded offseason addition to the roster, made an inauspicious
debut. He had no receptions and never was targeted.

‘‘It felt good,’’ Williams said. ‘‘A little different not being in a Detroit Lions uniform on the other side, but it feels like home.’’

Coach Lovie Smith said Williams played sparingly by design.

‘‘The guys that we played, that’s exactly how we wanted it to play out,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We have plenty of time to get Roy his reps. We have an idea of what he can do.’’

Sam Hurd was active as a wide receiver and on special teams. He stripped the ball from Marcus
Easley on a kickoff return, with teammate Craig Steltz recovering, but the play was nullified by an
illegal-formation penalty.

Wide receiver Kris Adams, an undrafted free agent, led the Bears with three receptions for 58 yards. The highlight was a 31-yard catch on which the 6-3 Adams snared a well-thrown pass by third-string quarterback Nathan Enderle. Adams also threw a block that sprung Kahlil Bell for a 27-yard gain on a screen pass.

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