Chicago Bears: Rashard Mendenhall

Bears free agency preview: Running backs

February, 8, 2013
ESPNChicago examines potential unrestricted free agents at positions of need for the Bears.

ForteBrace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsMatt Forte topped 1,000 yards rushing for the third time in his five-year career.

Free agency previews: S | CB | DT | DE | G | WR | TE | QB | LB | OT

The Chicago Bears invested heavily in their ground game last offseason when they awarded lucrative contracts to Matt Forte (four years, $30.4 million, $17.1 million guaranteed) and Michael Bush (four years, $14 million, $7 million guaranteed), only to see both players have relatively modest seasons amid talk that neither was used enough.

Forte managed to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards (1,094) for the third time in his five-year NFL career, but his average yards-per-carry fell from 4.9 to 4.4, and he also set career-lows in receptions with 44 for 340 yards. However, Forte remains one of the top all-purpose backs in the league and should be one of the key offensive pieces moving forward under new Bears coach Marc Trestman.

Injuries seemed to limit Bush, who dealt with shoulder and rib issues during his first season in Chicago after a successful four-year stint with the Oakland Raiders. But even when Bush was healthy last season, he did little more than provide the Bears with an effective and powerful goal-line back.

Bush views himself as much more than simply a battering ram in the red zone, but he only carried the ball 114 times and caught nine passes in 13 games. In Bush's final year in Oakland, he ran the ball 256 times and had 37 receptions while starting nine of the Raiders' 16 regular season games. Everybody knew Bush came to Chicago to back up Forte, but Bush probably believed he would see more action in the Bears' backfield when he signed.

With Forte ($7.175) and Bush ($3.550) scheduled to eat up a combined $10.725 million in salary cap space in 2013, the Bears' only objective this offseason might be to upgrade at the No. 3 running back spot, although options do exist internally.

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Rashard Mendenhall tells dream NFC foe

February, 1, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas. -- It's fair to say Chicago's strongest individual link to Super Bowl XLV is the Pittsburgh SteelersRashard Mendenhall.

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