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Howard runs to Bears rookie record

Posted Jan 1, 2017

Running back Jordan Howard capped his fantastic rookie season by setting one Bears record and extending another in Sunday's 38-10 loss to the Vikings.

MINNEAPOLIS - Running back Jordan Howard capped his fantastic rookie season by setting one Bears record and extending another in Sunday's 38-10 loss to the Vikings.

With a 17-yard run midway through the second quarter, the fifth-round draft pick from Indiana eclipsed the Bears' single-season rookie rushing record that Matt Forte had set with 1,238 yards in 2008.

"It means a lot," Howard said. "I just want to thank God because none of this is possible without him. My teammates do a great job opening holes and the coaches get us in the right plays. I just try to make the most of my opportunities."

Entering the game needing 61 yards to surpass Forte, Howard rushed for 135 yards on 23 carries to finish the season with 1,313 yards on 252 attempts—64 fewer rushes than Forte's 316 in 2008. In the process, Howard extended a Bears rookie mark he already had set with his seventh 100-yard game of the year.

Not bad for a running back who opened the season third on the depth chart and didn't make his first start until Week 4 when both Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey were injured.

"I exceeded my expectations, but I didn't really surprise myself," Howard said. "I always knew I was capable of this, but coming into the season I just wanted to help the team the best way I could."

Howard is the fourth player in Bears history to rush for at least 1,300 yards in a season. Walter Payton achieved the feat nine times during his illustrious career from 1975-87, while Thomas Jones (1,335 in 2005) and Forte (1,339 in 2013) each did it once.

Howard stressed after Sunday's loss that he would appreciate his accomplishments much more if the Bears were having a successful season.

"There's nothing to really celebrate," he said. "We're not winning. If you're not winning, there's no point in celebrating. I would trade all this personal success for wins. I don't really want to think about individual success."

Before Howard left the field after Sunday's game, he spoke with Vikings star Adrian Peterson, who did not play in the contest due to ankle and groin injuries.

"He was giving me advice and telling me you get out what you put in, so he just told me to keep working," Howard said.

No worries: After following a 6-10 first season with a 3-13 mark in his second year as Bears coach, John Fox was asked if he's received any assurances that he will return in 2017.

"I really haven't," Fox said. "At the end of the day, I've been doing this for a long time. I've never worried about job security and I'm not going to start now."

Fox, who compiled a 119-89 record in 13 seasons as a coach of the Panthers (2002-10) and Broncos (2011-14) before joining the Bears, insisted that he wants to return.

"You start something, you want to finish it," he said. "I think a lot of this organization. I think a lot of this city. I think a lot of the tradition of this team. I've worked for a couple of different organizations similar as far as been around for a long time. It's definitely a job I want to finish."

Looking ahead: The Bears (3-13) have secured the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft behind the Browns (1-15) and 49ers (2-14). The Jaguars also finished 3-13, but the Bears win the tiebreaker because they have a weaker strength of schedule.

Bag of tricks: The Bears' only touchdown Sunday came on a trick play as Langford took a direct snap and pitched the ball to receiver Cameron Meredith, who tossed a 2-yard TD pass to quarterback Matt Barkley in the right flat.

"Once I got the pitch off the edge, Matt released to the flat and it was pretty easy," Meredith said. "I saw [safety] Harrison Smith down and I just had to get it over his head."

Meredith spent his first three seasons at Illinois State as a quarterback, but he only played sparingly, throwing just five passes without a touchdown before switching to receiver as a junior. So Sunday's TD pass was his first since he was a senior at St. Joseph's High School in suburban Chicago.

Debut performance: After Barkley committed his third turnover of the game with 9:51 left in the fourth quarter, he was replaced by David Fales, who completed 2 of 5 passes for 22 yards in his first NFL regular-season game.

Roster news: Outside linebackers Leonard Floyd (concussion) and Pernell McPhee (shoulder), safety Deon Bush (ankle) and cornerback Bryce Callahan (hamstring/knee) missed Sunday's game due to injuries. Running back Ka'Deem Carey, fullback Paul Lasike and receiver Daniel Braverman were also inactive.

Cornerback Johnthan Banks (ankle), linebacker Jonathan Anderson (hamstring) and cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc (knee) exited Sunday's game with injuries.