How bad has the Bears' running game been in the preseason?
Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte has 7 carries for minus-7 yards. Backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen has the team's longest run -- 16 yards.
Bears coach Marc Trestman admits the ground attack has been unacceptable but believes it's an easy fix.
"We've got to work on our running game," Trestman said. "We're not concerned about it (though). It's more one guy here, one guy there.
"We've just really got to clean it up. But we're confident that we can be better with the people that we have and the running backs that we have."
Common sense says that when it matters, the Bears will be able to run well enough to keep defenses honest and from overplaying the pass. All five starters on the offensive line are back from last season, although right tackle Jordan Mills has not played in the preseason because of a left-foot injury.
Eben Britton, last year's top backup, has not suited up either because of a hamstring injury. Brian de la Puente, who started at right guard in the preseason opener when Kyle Long was out and is expected to be one of the top backups, is sidelined with a sprained knee.
It's questionable if any of the injured three will be well enough to face the Seahawks on Friday in Seattle. But all are expected back at 100 percent well before the start of the regular season.
The starting five plus Britton helped pave the way for a run game that was No. 7 in the league in average gain per attempt last season. Equally important, Forte is still in his prime, coming off the most productive season of his six in the league.
The Bears did not game plan for either of the first two preseason games, but that shouldn't matter.
"We don't look at it as an excuse for us not being able to be productive running the football," Trestman said. "When you look at the tape, it's not the collective group, and it never really is. It's one miss here, one miss there. It's a perimeter-blocking issue at times."
Trestman believes that because it's not the same mistakes being repeated the cure isn't far off.
"I don't think it's structure," he said. "It's not, not having the (right) players to get it done. It can be a six-inch step some time, or a hand placement some time, or one guy not doing his job. That's all it takes in the running game to give a defensive player a gap to make a play."
While the Bears spend the last two preseason games trying to get the run game up to speed, the battle for playing time behind Forte will be decided.
Fourth-round draft pick Ka'Deem Carey will get one of what should be two openings, and it looks like the other spot will go to Shaun Draughn or Michael Ford.
Carey got 13 carries Thursday against Jacksonville but managed just 36 yards (2.8-yard average). Ford has 5 preseason carries for 15 yards, but he's also a contender for the kickoff-return job and contributes on special teams. Draughn picked up 33 yards on 3 carries and caught 2 passes for 12 yards Thursday.
"He's really done good in the pass-catching department," Trestman said of Draughn. "He's shown good running skills, and he's practiced well. Obviously, he's involved in this competition. I think him and Ka'Deem are in a competition for who will be the second guy."
That makes Ford the underdog.
"That doesn't mean Michael is out of the picture," Trestman said. "But Carey and Draughn have been more consistent on a day-to-day basis of being in the right place and doing the right things. But Michael's not that far behind."
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