CHICAGO – The April 23 signing seemed like nothing more than the addition of a veteran body to a competition at running back behind Matt Forte.
Now, through two preseason games, Shaun Draughn has emerged as the Bears' current No. 2 running back. The 26-year-old back has bounced around enough to know not to take that for granted, however.
“Job for me to lose? I don’t have it, so there’s nothing to lose,” Draughn said after the Bears’ 20-19 preseason win Thursday over Jacksonville.
The fact that the Bears have struggled to get going on the ground has been a talking point, but Draughn was a bright spot, carrying the ball three times for 33 yards and catching two passes for 12 yards.
"I thought he did well," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "He’s really done good in the pass-catching department. He’s shown good running skills and he’s practiced well."
Last year with the Ravens, Draughn appeared in three games. He had four carries for two yards.
The Bears may not have taken much from 2013 tape, but in 2012, Draughn appeared in all 16 games for the Chiefs. He had 59 carries for 233 yards and two scores to go along with 24 catches for 158 yards.
That’s the player we’ve seen since minicamp; and in Bourbonnais, Draughn passed up second-year back Michael Ford and fourth-round pick Ka’Deem Carey on the depth chart.
Draughn has two qualities that have helped his cause. First, his experience, compared to four other running backs with a combined zero NFL carries.
“He’s not a rookie, so when he showed up and we got to work with him in the OTAs, I thought he caught on quick to what we were trying to do,” Bears running backs coach Skip Peete said. “He seems very comfortable in running routes, and as a runner, seems very comfortable, and doesn’t have a lot of nervous tension that some guys new to a situation would have.”
The route running is part of Draughn’s second key attribute, his receiving abilities. He noticed how the Bears used Forte as a receiver last season (74 catches), and can provide more than the four catches last year’s backup, Michael Bush, contributed.
“When [the Bears] called me, I immediately thought about that,” Draughn said about how the Bears use backs in their passing game, then comparing his dual-threat abilities to Forte.
“We’re sort of one in the same, we’ve got our different styles, but the way they line us up at different positions, at wide receiver or split us out in empty, and allow us to actually catch the ball, I feel like that’s a strength that I can definitely help and if something went down, I could definitely step in and help out.”
Draughn has a more similar build (6 feet, 205 pounds) to Forte than the other backs, in addition to their style of play, and Draughn smiled and pointed to the locker next to him at Soldier Field, Forte’s, when asked about how they’ve gelled.
“We clicked as soon as I got here. We’ve been tight ever since. We talk every day about how I wasn’t playing before but then I came here and they really gave me a chance,” he said. “I talked to him before, that’s all I really wanted, a fair opportunity. He took me under his wing, he’s not too much older than me, but he’s a great guy.”
That camaraderie they’ve built may be more than just summer bonding the way Draughn has positioned himself to come out of nowhere to be the Bears’ No. 2 running back.