Bears' running backs almost full strength
With Jeremy Langford back at practice this week and active Monday night for the first time since his sprained ankle in Game 3, the running back committee is close to full strength.
How the runs will be distributed going forward is uncertain, although rookie Jordan Howard got the start Monday night, and on his second carry went 69 yards, the Bears' longest play of the season. He also picked up 34 yards on a shovel pass on the second play of the second quarter. Howard finished with 153 yards on 26 carries (5.9-yard average) and a 2-yard TD run.
The fifth-round pick from Indiana also caught 4 passes for 49 yards.
Langford had gotten the most work in the first two games (28 carries), and Howard was the main man in the next four games (63 attempts). Last week Ka'Deem Carey was the leader with 10 carries for 48 yards, while Howard rushed seven times for 22 yards. Carey also outrushed Howard vs. the Jaguars in Week Six, picking up 50 yards on 9 tries, while Howard managed just 34 yards on 15 carries.
"It's still who has the hot hand," offensive coordinator Dowel Loggains said. "Obviously Ka'Deem has had a couple of good games, and it showed in some of the production and the number of carries he has gotten. (Running backs) coach (Stan) Drayton does a really good job of that (substitution) stuff. We'll continue to do that. The hot hand is going to get the majority of the carries."
Howard was clearly the hot hand Monday night and will be until further notice.
Sack attack is back:
Rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd's second-quarter sack was his third in two games, giving him 3½ for the season. Defensive end Akiem Hicks got 2 of the Bears' 5 sacks, his third and fourth of the season.
In addition to Floyd and Hicks, Cornelius Washington got his second sack; and Pernell McPhee, playing in his second game, picked up his first sack.
By the numbers:
Through seven weeks the Vikings had the No. 1 scoring defense, while the Bears' offense was last in scoring. ... The Bears are the first 1-6 team in NFL history to play four prime-time games. ... Monday night's start was quarterback Jay Cutler's 100th as a Bear. He was 50-49 in his first 99. ... Heading into Week Eight, the Vikings led the NFL with 16 takeaways, while the Bears had just 7.
Daily Cubs item:
In the minimal free time he has during the season, Bears coach John Fox has kept up with the Cubs' run to the World Series.
"I've watched them all along," Fox said. "It's pretty exciting stuff, not just for the city, but for us as well. Our ownership are huge fans. We've got players, who are, too. I know we're behind them. I know I'm behind them."
Fox has only attended one game, back in the summer when wide receiver Alshon Jeffery threw out the first pitch and sang during the seventh-inning stretch.
"He actually did quite well," Fox said of Jeffery's singing. "He survived."
Sitting it out:
Monday night's inactive players were starting guards Kyle Long (arm) and Josh Sitton (ankle), cornerbacks Bryce Callahan (hamstring) and Deiondre' Hall (ankle), starting slot receiver Eddie Royal (toe), starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and tight end Daniel Brown.
Ted Larsen started in place of Long, and Eric Kush filled in for Sitton for the second straight game. Cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc returned punts in place of Royal.