The Bears changed up their running back rotation this offseason when they signed Marion Barber and dumped Chester Taylor, but it looks like they’ll need to wait at least one more week for a look at Matt Forte’s running mate.
According to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune, Barber will miss Sunday’s opener against the Falcons with a calf injury suffered in the team’s third preseason game. Barber drew a lot of praise from Mike Martz during the preseason, an indication that the offensive coordinator would find ways to use both of his tailbacks in games.
If Barber does miss the game, the Bears will be without an experienced option to match with Forte. Kahlil Bell, who had no carries last season, would step into Barber’s spot, but it is hard to imagine the Bears would go to him as willingly as they would Barber.
Forte might actually appreciate the chance for an increased workload. With contract talks stalled, any chance he gets to put up big numbers will help him win more hearts and minds toward his belief that he should get what he wants from the Bears in a long-term deal. That runs counter to the path Taylor took to big money from the Bears, but after the way that went you’d imagine Chicago would try something different this time around.