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Bears' running backs set to share

5/1/2010 - NFL Matt Forte Chester Taylor + more

Don't anticipate problems concerning the coexistence of Chicago Bears running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor in 2010.

The duo indicates the situation won't fester into an issue. At least that was the general vibe exuded by the running backs in separate interviews Thursday and Friday on ESPN-1000's "Afternoon Saloon" show.

Speaking in an interview for the first time since the signing of Taylor, Forte, who started all 16 games last season, said Friday that he was pleased with the acquisition of his new backfield mate.

"It was fine," Forte said of the signing. "I was happy they signed another running back that is kind of like I am. He can run the ball. He can catch. He has a lot of versatility to him. We have two good running backs, and in this offense with [offensive coordinator] Mike [Martz], we can be on the field at the same time. We can spell one another when one of us gets tired. It's going to be good."

The potential for that definitely exists, judging by some of the numbers produced by running backs working with Martz.

Future Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk enjoyed the best four-year stretch of his career playing in Martz's offense with the St. Louis Rams. From 1999-2002, Faulk averaged 255.3 attempts for 1,374 yards and 83.6 catches for 881 yards. Conversely, Forte has averaged 287 carries for 1,083.5 yards and 60 catches for 474 yards over his two seasons.

Taylor, meanwhile, ran the ball a career-high 303 times (1,216 yards) for the Minnesota Vikings in 2006, and his career high for catches came in 2008 (45 catches, 399 yards).

So the key for Martz, it appears, is generating Faulk-like numbers utilizing a combination of two players.

"I believe we're just going to share the load," Taylor said Thursday on the "Afternoon Saloon" show. "Having depth at our running back position is always key because it's a long season and [to make it through] the playoffs, to the Super Bowl, you've got to have depth in your running backs group. That's what we have right now."

Apparently, such depth comes at a steep price, given the fact that Chicago signed Taylor to a four-year contract worth $12.5 million, which includes $7 million guaranteed. General manager Jerry Angelo said Taylor signed with the club understanding that Forte was considered the starter.

Taylor seemed to echo that sentiment, saying basically that winning trumped everything else.

"It is fine," Taylor said of the two-back system. "As long as we do whatever we can to help our team win, that's all that matters right now. I'm at the point of my career where I'm trying to get a ring. That's what's most important to me right now."

Taylor and Forte both admitted that learning Martz's complex scheme is a daunting task. Both seemed excited about the offense's prospects for success.

"It's going to take a lot of work for the whole team as an offense," Forte said. "A lot of different stuff, a lot of formations and shifts and things we have to learn and have to get down. Watching old film of Marshall Faulk and other teams he's coached more recently, and a lot of stuff looks good. I'm excited to get started and run the plays against the defense."

Forte said Martz's offense is reminiscent of the scheme he ran as a senior at Tulane, given its heavy reliance on isolation and zone runs, which cater to a downhill style.

Taylor, meanwhile, just wants the ball.

"Any way they give me the ball ... that works for me."

But will there be enough balls to go around in such a pass-happy offense led by a gunslinger of a quarterback (Jay Cutler) and two solid ball carriers?

We'll soon see.

Michael Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com