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Five things to know about Bears' backfield after Matt Forte's knee injury

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- In light of Matt Forte's recent right knee injury, here are five things to know about the Chicago Bears' backfield going into Monday night’s game at San Diego.

1. Soon-to-be 30-year old Forte is a model of durability. Forte has missed only six career games due to injury, but four of those absences occurred late in 2011 because of an MCL sprain. Why is that relevant? Forte’s contract expired after that season. It’s the same story this year. Will Forte take longer than necessary to come back from this latest knee injury because of his impending free-agent status? I guess anything is possible, but Forte doesn’t strike me as that kind of guy. He needs a productive season to secure a new multiyear deal. I realize the business aspect at play here, but Forte is about to turn 30. That’s a nasty number for NFL running backs. Forte won’t win over many league executives by sitting on the sidelines longer than absolutely necessary.

2. Primary backup Jeremy Langford has been sprinkled in the offense over seven games. The 2015 fourth-round pick has played just 73 total snaps; carrying the football 27 times for 80 yards (3.0 yard average) and two touchdowns with two receptions for 31 yards. Fantasy owners should know that Langford’s workload is expected to triple in the coming weeks until Forte returns. The Bears claim Langford is talented enough to handle the assignment of being the feature back. Time will if that assessment is accurate. Langford’s longest run of the year is nine yards.

3. Veteran Antone Smith is dangerous in the open field. As a member of the Atlanta Falcons, Smith rushed for 289 yards and two touchdowns in 2013-14, and also caught 13 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns last year. Smith played 13 snaps on special teams in the 23-20 loss to the Vikings. That’s 13 more snaps than Ka’Deem Carey received from the coaching staff. Carey was a healthy inactive in Week 8.

4. Speaking of Carey, the former fourth-round pick has appeared in only two games with zero touches or special teams tackles. That’s a bad trend. Carey looks like the most expendable guy in the group because of his inability to contribute on special teams. Maybe the Bears take a harder look at Carey on offense with Forte hurt, but that’s not a guarantee. Of the 20 players the Bears drafted from 2012-14, eight are no longer on the roster. General manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox have not hesitated to ship out ex-draft picks they feel no longer fit. The club is reported to have interest in signing former Broncos tailback Montee Ball. Adding Ball to the mix makes sense from the standpoint he played under Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase for two years in Denver and knows the system. Denver waived Ball after a disappointing preseason.

5. The Bears miss Jacquizz Rodgers, who landed on injured reserve Oct. 12 with an arm injury. Not only did Rodgers (5-foot-6, 196 pounds) run hard between the tackles, he played well on special teams. That’s a double whammy. Expect Rodgers to be back with the club next year. He made a favorable impression on the coaching staff. Too bad he’s unavailable to help bridge the gap until Forte is ready to go.