When the Bears did not bring in a possible free agent running back for the depth chart behind David Montgomery, it said they had confidence in Ryan Nall.
It also said they had confidence in undrafted free agent Napoleon Maxwell from Florida International.
They signed Maxwell along with Oregon State's Artavis Pierce as possible backups but they can get more than backup help from him. They also can get inspiration.
After a freshman year when he showed promise with 254 yards on 55 carries and four catches for 90 yards, Maxwell tore his left ACL during 2015 camp.
Maxwell started rehabbing hard and pushed himself. He pushed to hard, he said. In camp before the 2016 season, he tore the same ACL.
Tearing the same ligament in successive years did not deter Maxwell. After the injuries he stil came up with career-long runs of 75, 52, 51 and 46 yards. He shared duties and started six of the 13 games he played in 2019 but led the team in rushing as a senior with 684 yards on 128 attempts, including runs of 75 and 46 yards. He made 81 rushes for 477 yards and five TDs in 2017, playing every game but not starting.
Maxwell still finished his career with 2,090 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns
He is closer to David Montgomery in the way he relies on power to run, perhaps closer even to former Bear Jordan Howard.
Draftscout.com posted a 4.59 40 time for Maxwell, who didn't get invited to the combine. He said he ran a 4.48 at a junior combine, but this is even less legit than his posted 4.59 pro day time.
At one time someone injuring the same ligament twice would have been entirely done with their career.
Maxwell is a testament to how far surgery and sports medicine have come, as well as to how far determination can take a player.
How that rates for 2020 with the Bears remains to be seen. Projecting a back other than David Montgomery, Ryan Nall and Tarik Cohen to make the roster is a reach.
Most likely Maxwell will be a cut victim and go to the practice squad. It's not the cruelest thing to happen to Maxwell in his carer.
Napoleon Maxwell at a Glance
RB Florida International
The Key Numbers: Maxwell averaged 5.45 yards a carry on 337 carries with 21 TDs after he suffered his back-to-back torn left ACLs.
Chance to Make Roster: 0.5 on a 0-5 scale with 5 being the highest.
Projection for 2020: Cut victim and practice squad addition