Kahlil Bell will back up Matt Forte in Bears opener
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org September 9, 2011 11:58PM
Updated: November 9, 2011 2:58PM
Running back Kahlil Bell, who started his NFL career with a bang in 2009 but spent last season on the bench, will get a long-awaited opportunity in the Bears’ season opener Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field.
With Marion Barber ruled out because of a calf injury he suffered Aug. 27 against the Tennessee Titans, Bell will back up starter Matt Forte.
Bell had a 72-yard gain on his first NFL carry against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 and gained 220 yards on 40 carries in seven games. But he was inactive for all 18 games last season.
‘‘I’m ready and excited,’’ Bell said. ‘‘I feel I’m an every-down back in the NFL. I can do anything they ask me to do. If they need me to block, I can block. If they need me to get a yard, I can get a yard. If they need me to run pass routes, I can do that. I don’t like to pigeonhole myself. I think I can do it all.’’
In last year’s opener against the Lions, Forte had 17 carries for 50 yards, and Chester Taylor had nine carries for 29 yards.
Defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) and wide receiver Sam Hurd (ankle) are listed as questionable. Wootton, recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 16, isn’t expected to play. Hurd, a key special-teams contributor, is more likely to play.
Defensive tackle Anthony Adams (calf), linebacker Lance Briggs (knee), Bell (knee), rookie safety Chris Conte (head), tight end Kellen Davis (back), long snapper Pat Mannelly (calf) and safety Craig Steltz (hip) are listed as probable.
For the Falcons, center Todd McClure (knee) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (knee) will not play.
Rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi said he’ll have some butterflies but is otherwise unfazed by his first NFL start Sunday. It’s difficult to draw conclusions from preseason games, but Carimi has battled Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije throughout training camp, and that’s pretty good preparation.
‘‘I feel like if you practice it enough, you feel confident enough,’’ said Carimi, the Bears’ first-round pick (24th overall). ‘‘In a lot of situations, practices can be harder than the games because your guys start noticing the cadence and jump the cadence.
‘‘I had two awesome guys to go against when we were in camp. So I feel confident going against [the Falcons]. It’s going to be a challenge. I know there will be those moments in the game when I’ll have to have a short-term memory and keep on trucking. That’s what this team needs is for me to keep on playing and not having the tumble effect.’’