As long as Matt Forte is around, there won't be many opportunities for other Bears running backs.
But in fourth-round draft choice Ka'Deem Carey, the Bears may have their best backup since Forte became the main man shortly after he was drafted in the second round in 2008.
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Carey was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year in 2013 as a junior at Arizona, and he rushed for 3,814 yards in his final two seasons, including an FBS-best 1,929 as a sophomore.
So why was he still available when the Bears took him with the 117th overall pick?
A couple of reasons: at 5-foot-9 and 207 pounds, Carey lacks ideal size. He also had a couple off-the-field screw-ups after his sophomore season, including a domestic violence incident involving his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Those charges were later dropped, and in predraft interviews, Carey convinced the Bears that he was not a character risk.
There was also the issue of Carey's unimpressive 4.69-second 40-time, but film review and seeing him in person allayed any fears of his not having enough speed to compete.
"I don't know about the scouts and how they evaluated Ka'Deem," Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. "But I'm glad I watched the tape before I found out he ran a 4.7, because I didn't see a 4.7 on tape.
"He's quick, and he can get from Point A to Point B in a hurry. Maybe in the long distance, he might get caught by someone faster. But we're more concerned about gaining four or five yards -- or 20 yards -- than we are about him busting a (long) touchdown that you see three times a year. We feel very good about him being productive with his quickness and his physical play that he has."
Carey will be glad to hear that because, after his first rookie minicamp practice, he said he doesn't get optimum results if he's fixated on having to impress.
"When I have fun, I play my best," Carey said. "If I get worked up about trying to compete and trying to show what I've got, then I will just show out bad. I want to perform how I know how to perform. I walk around with a smile, and I have fun, and I perform."
Bears coaches have already seen that on tape after just two practices in the three-day rookie minicamp that began Friday.
"Ka'Deem Carey has suddenness," Kromer said. "When he sees a hole, he's able to get north. When you go back and watch tape, you say, 'How did he get from there to over there and gain 3 yards when no one was looking?
"That's what Ka'Deem Carey can do."
Carey said putting on a Bears helmet for the first time on Friday put him at ease but also made him feel as if a long journey was just beginning.
"I saw that big old 'C' on my helmet, and I just felt like I made it, but that I've still got a lot of work to do," he said. "It felt great, though. When you're having fun, a lot of good things happen."
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