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Bears Backfield Depth Depleted

What once looked like a deep Bears backfield is suddenly now rookie Khalil Herbert, Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace appeared to address the team's lack of running back depth in the offseason by bringing in Damien Williams and drafting Khalil Herbert.

Guess again.

After starter David Montgomery went on injured reserve with a knee injury following the Week 4 win over Detroit, the Bears on Thursday lost Williams to the reserve/COVID-19 list. 

It leaves them with only Herbert, veteran Ryan Nall and practice squad back Artavis Pierce at running back.

Montgomery is ineligible to return until after the next two games. 

Tarik Cohen remains on the physically unable to perform list after ACL surgery last year, and can't become eligible to come off the list until after this week's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Williams started in place of Montgomery in Sunday's win over the Raiders and had 64 yards on 16 carries. However, Herbert split time with him and finished with 18 carries for 75 yards.

Nall was just promoted this week from the practice squad and isn't ideal as a ball carrier, but but can pass block. Herbert isn't well-versed in how to pass block at the NFL level, either. The Bears were sticking to the run in Sunday's win.

Herbert feels he's ready to be a consistent producer because he thinks he knows the offense.

"A lot, because I came in here earlier than everybody, the rookies, so just getting the basics of the offense down," he said. "I feel like I’ve worked a lot at it and learned a lot of different positions on the offense."

Herbert seemed to get stronger and had more carries in the second half he made 11 of his rushing attempts for 51 yards then and he got more comfortable as the game progressed.

"It definitely slowed down a lot more, just getting the full game speed," he said. "It's a lot different than preseason, so just getting the full game speed and allowing myself to just slow down and let things happen. So it slowed down a lot."

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Herbert took pride not in the yardage necessarily but something else.

"I would say my ball security," he said. "That's one thing I pride myself on, so just focusing on that. That's something I work on every day and continue to work on."

The Bears as a team have a plus-three turnover ratio this year and have only lost one fumble.

Herbert isn't getting too carried away with what he's accomplished.

"I've still got a lot to prove, still got a lot to fix, still got a lot to work on, so still working on it," he said.

He'll get the chance Sunday, and it's going to be especially difficult for the Bears offense because they have had to depend on the running game to move the ball while quarterback Justin Fields is still learning how to compete at an NFL level. They've had 331 rushing yards in his last two starts after getting only 46 in the Week 3 26-6 loss to Cleveland.

"Since Day 1, Khalil’s came to work. I feel like he's treated this whole process like a veteran," said quarterback Justin Fields. "Like, literally every time I pull up, he's always here. In the morning he's here early. He really takes his work seriously.

"He's a hard worker in the weight room. After practice he's always out there doing extra little moves, or on the Jug machine. So he's a hard worker, and he's just a great person overall."

Now he's going to need to be more than that to help support a Bears running attack suddenly short on experienced talent.

There was only one other change to the Bears injury report regarding an injured player and that was return man Jakeem Grant practicing only on a limited basis Thursday due to a groin injury. Khalil Mack (foot), Akiem Hicks (groin), tight end J.P. Holtz (quad) and wide receiver Allen Robinson (ankle) each missed a second straight day of practice. 

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