The Chicago Bears might lean heavily on the rookie running back.
Recently, we discussed how the Chicago Bears are thin when it comes to depth at three key positions. One of them is running back, where the Bears currently have second-year starter David Montgomery, paired with Tarik Cohen as the only returning players from last season with legitimate experience at the position. Yes, there is fan-favorite Ryan Nall, but if the Bears were high on him, he likely would have gotten more than two touches last season.
Talent-wise, the team is more than set at the position. Montgomery is looking to have a breakout year, hopefully with an improved offensive line. Cohen, who had a down year in 2019, is hoping to get back to his 2018 form when he was one of the most exciting and dangerous weapons in the NFL.
But what happens if either of those players gets injured? Specifically, what if the Bears lose Montgomery for any length of time? Who would step in and carry the ball 20-25 times per game like Montgomery will be expected to do this year? Certainly, that is not a role Cohen can step into. Some have argued for the Bears to make a move in free agency, but to date, they have not. So perhaps they feel that option is already on the roster in Artavis Pierce.
Pierce is an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State Univerisity who combined for 1,042 yards (rushing and receiving) last season with eight touchdowns. He runs the 40 in the mid 4.4s (ran a 4.47 at Oregon State’s Pro Day) and is solidly built at 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds.
The fact that the team hasn’t gone out to get a veteran running back might bode well for Pierce. Perhaps the team feels he can step in to take over for Montgomery if necessary. That would be a tall order for any rookie, but especially one trying to learn the offense remotely without the benefit of being in Halas Hall.
That the team seem to think this highly about Pierce says a lot about not just the player, but also the person he is. He clearly has a high football IQ. The book on Pierce is that he is a solid back who does everything well even if he’s not elite in any particular aspect.
While he’s still a bit of a longshot to make the team as an undrafted free agent, the longer the team goes without bringing in another option the better his chances are of doing just that. Perhaps he can be another UDFA gem uncovered by the Bears.