The 34-6 crushing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks contained few positives for the Bears. They did outscore the Super Bowl champions 6-3 in the second half. They allowed no Seattle run longer than nine yards and that one nine-yard run was a scramble by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
And undrafted rookie running back Senorise Perry returned kickoffs 27 and 24 yards, the former representing the longest return by a Bear still on the 2014 roster. Perry also quietly rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries (4.1 avg.), one for a touchdown.
“Quietly,” because while attention was focused on whether Ka’Deem Carey or Shaun Draughn would emerge as the No. 2 running back to Matt Forte, Perry has played his way into the discussion of who the Bears’ kickoff returner will be. He also has created the extremely unusual (and unlikely, given needs for depth elsewhere) scenario whereby the Bears could keep four running backs.
It should not be ruled out entirely. While offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer was on the New Orleans staff, the Saints kept five running backs on their initial 53-man roster. The Bears conceivably could reach a spot where Carey is determined as Forte’s backup, meaning that if the Bears only can afford to use three roster slots on running backs, Perry offers more than Draughns on game days.
The key as with all backups is special teams and Perry has credentials besides his plays in Seattle. He returned 22 kickoffs at Louisville for a 23.3-yard average and blocked a punt.
“I take a lot of pride in special teams, not just returns,” Perry said on Tuesday. “Once I got a chance to go out and return the ball, it was just a great opportunity.”
He will get that opportunity on Thursday in Cleveland, even with Michael Spurlock and Chris Williams slated to get looks returning kicks.
“I hate to say how big, but it’s certainly going to be an opportunity for him,” said coach Marc Trestman. “He’s flashed for us. He’s had a couple of good games in the reps that he’s had, both in the kicking game and running the football. He’s going to get that chance again, to run the football on Thursday night, as we see it right now.”