Bears running backs coach Stan Drayton was impressed with how rookie Jeremy Langford performed in Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Langford rushed for 21 yards on six carries—all on the Bears' third possession of the game, which the 6-foot, 208-pounder capped with a one-yard touchdown plunge.
"The kid works his butt off every single day," Drayton said Monday night on "The Bears Coaches Show" on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM. "It was great to see him go in there and not flinch and just keep the ball moving for us. Obviously he was excited to get his first touchdown at Soldier Field, and I'm excited for him."
The Bears selected Langford in the fourth round of this year's draft. He was a productive four-year contributor and two-year starter at Michigan State, rushing for 2,944 yards and 40 touchdowns on 568 carries his last two seasons.
Langford arrived on campus as a running back, but played some cornerback and receiver before returning to his natural position in 2013. He rushed for at least 100 yards in 18 games at Michigan State, the third most in school history, and closed his career by topping the 100-yard mark in his last 15 Big Ten games.
This summer Langford led the Bears in rushing in the preseason with 153 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries with a long run of 46 yards.
Langford is an all-around back who showed his skills as a pass blocker Sunday against the Cardinals when he took on 6-foot, 246-pound blitzing linebacker Kevin Minter.
"There's obviously a size differential there and if you're going to play in this league you better be able to protect your quarterback," Drayton said. "The way we think about it around here is if you can't protect your quarterback you don't really belong out there."
Learning how to pick up blitzes isn't an easy task for NFL rookies.
"Most college programs only have maybe two or three protections scheme, period," Drayton said. "So when you go into this league we're going to throw a playbook full of protections at you and we're going to ask you to execute them at full speed.
"You've got to be able to anticipate and meet a defender at the line of scrimmage as best you can. We feel that if we can meet a blitzer at the line of scrimmage we'll have a greater chance of success as opposed to meeting him in the backfield.
"It's all about matchups in this league, so you better study his demeanor. What kind of rusher is he? Is he a bull rusher? Is he finesse? You've got to know that going in. What are your disadvantage? We study this. This is something we put a lot of time and work into and once we get it identified we work it on the practice field."