Ka’Deem Carey is entering his third training camp with the Bears. And he has just as good a chance to start as he has to be cut.
While neither of those outcomes are particularly likely, they are realistic. There aren’t that many players in the league facing similar circumstances. Two years into his career, it’s impossible to know what Carey’s role will be.
Carey was on his way out the door last year – fourth on the depth chart with not much separating him from Senorice Perry. Add in the fact that Perry was a four-phase special teams stud and Carey struggled on specials and the writing was on the wall. Then Perry was injured, followed by an injury to Jacquizz Rodgers and one to Matt Forte. Carey went from on his way off the roster to starting the team’s prime time game against San Diego.
It’s easy to see why people like Carey. He runs hard and brings energy. He picked up two big — and important — fans in John Fox and Stan Drayton. He picked up tough yards in short-yardage situations and provided the team’s best touchdown dance.
Ka’Deem Carey touchdown celebration. pic.twitter.com/UNXOuGLBz9
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) December 27, 2015
But it’s hard to forget that it took three injuries for Carey to find the field last year.
Bears know they have a potential star in Jeremy Langford. But one of the draft’s surprises was their addition of fifth-round draft pick Jordan Howard.
While they have similar running styles, Howard is bigger and faster than Carey and was considered one of the best pounding backs in the draft. The running back by committee strategy is kind of a misnomer because, while they play more than one, they rarely play more than two. Howard is going to make the team and if he’s the player the Bears think they drafted, he’s going to be the thunder to Langford’s lightning.
So what is Carey’s role?
This is where Matt Forte’s absence comes in. The knock on Langford will be his pass-catching until he proves he can catch the ball. And Langford is not a particularly good pass blocker. Those two skills are what will make a healthy Jacquizz Rodgers incredibly valuable on third downs (and by that, on the roster).
That would leave Carey in the same spot he was last year: battling a special teams stud for a roster spot that is primarily about playing special teams. That won’t work out well for him.