LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -LaDainian Tomlinson went nowhere in the season opener and Larry Johnson got a few hard knocks the following week.
Now, Marion Barber and Julius Jones will try to do something two of the league's best running backs could not do against the Chicago Bears: find a few holes.
``Both Jones and Barber are good running backs,'' Bears defensive tackle Darwin Walker said. ``They run hard, they run physical.''
But can they run through the Bears?
The Bears held Tomlinson to 25 yards in a 14-3 loss at San Diego to start the season, while Johnson ran for 55 in last week's 20-10 victory over Kansas City.
So much for their run defense suffering with safety Mike Brown and nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek out for the season with knee injuries.
An emotional leader, Brown ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the fourth quarter against San Diego, and Dvoracek went down with a similar injury moments later.
With Brown and Walker out, opponents were expected to find more room to run against the Bears. Instead, Johnson found it's still not easy to run against them.
Dvoracek's replacement, Darwin Walker, showed he can get to the running back along with the quarterback. Known more for his pass-rushing ability, Walker stopped Johnson several times for little or no gain and had four tackles in all. He also had the Chiefs' Damon Huard on the run several times - no surprise, considering he had 26 1/2 sacks over the previous five years.
And the speedy Danieal Manning, Brown's replacement at free safety, came up with an end-zone interception in the fourth quarter.
Now comes another stiff test.
A team that leads the league with 82 points. An offense that's fourth with 415 yards per game. A Pro Bowl quarterback in Tony Romo. One of the most prolific receivers in league history, Terrell Owens. And two good running backs.
Jones has 98 yards after running for 1,084 last season, while Barber is playing at a Pro Bowl level in his third season.
The power complementing Jones' finesse, Barber has 154 yards and is averaging 6.2 per carry. He is tied for the NFL lead with three touchdowns after scoring 16 last season.
``I don't know if we know a whole lot about Barber yet,'' Bears defensive end Alex Brown said. ``He played well last year, he's playing well this year. He's definitely a top 10 back, maybe in the top five.''
Defensive coordinator Bob Babich said, ``He's a very physical running back. Barber runs extremely hard. We've got numerous plays on tape where he's run guys over.''
And Urlacher said it's tough to wear him down because he's not carrying the load. In fact, Jones has 31 carries - six more than Barber.
``It keeps them fresh,'' Urlacher said. ``I know they have two guys in there all the time; each one is going to be fresh.''
Although the Bears' defense has been among the NFL's best the past few years, it did undergo some changes in the offseason. The most notable was Babich replacing Ron Rivera as coordinator.
They're still running the cover-2, but they're gambling more, applying more pressure to try to contain the run. In the process, the Bears have seven sacks.
``I think the teams we play dictates how he calls the game because both teams had great running backs,'' Urlacher said. ``We wanted to stack the box and try to stop the run and make the quarterbacks beat us. But he has been aggressive turning us loose. Gives us a chance to make plays in the backfield.''
He sees no reason to stop against Dallas, even though the Cowboys' offense is more balanced.

Recent NFL Discussions

Carolina Wise Guy.....What? on Wed, Feb 2017 by MichaelF12
SUPER BOWL PLAY on Mon, Feb 2017 by MichaelF12
2017 NFL Draft Props on Fri, Feb 2017 by Blade
Handicapping Week 1 on Fri, Feb 2017 by Blade
Blade what time do you get up on Thu, Feb 2017 by Blade

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Krik Cousins Next Team Prop Odds Which team will Kirk Cousins be playing for in Week 1 of the 2017 NFL regular season?
Thumbnail Tony Romo Next Team Prop Odds Which team will Tony Romo play for when the 2017 NFL regular season begins? Oddsmakers have weighed in.
Thumbnail Taylor could be fit in Cleveland Could current Bills Tyrod Taylor be a fit for the quarterback-needy Browns next season?
Thumbnail Palmer, Fitz both returning for Cards The Arizona Cardinals will have their starting quarterback back for 2017, as Carson Palmer confirmed he will return to play next season.
Thumbnail AFC Championship Odds In no surprise, the Patriots are favored to win the 2018 AFC Conference Championship over the Steelers and the rest of the field.

NFL Team Pages