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Marion Barber to miss Falcons

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears officially declared backup running back Marion Barber out with a calf injury for Sunday's regular-season opener at Soldier Field against the Atlanta Falcons.

"Marion Barber is getting better," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "He won't play this week."

The Bears held out Barber from Friday's session. But the running back hasn't worked out with the team since suffering the calf injury in the first half of the club's matchup on Aug. 27 against the Tennessee Titans.

Barber carried 20 times for 94 yards in the first two preseason games -- including a 45-yard effort in the exhibition opener against the Bills -- and sustained the calf injury on a 1-yard run in the first quarter against the Titans.

According to offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the team will miss Barber's skills as "a violent runner."

"He's a guy who can certainly jump cut and do all those things," Martz said. "But he'll take a defender on, too, and break tackles. He's kind of a complete back in that way."

With Barber out of the lineup, the team will call upon Kahlil Bell, who averaged 4.5 yards per carry over the preseason.

"Great opportunity [for Bell], you have to be ready," Smith said. "Kahlil has been in [this] position before. He's a pro. He's had a good camp. There's a reason why he's on our football team right now, and if you're a backup, this is the time that you want. If your number is called, the team expects us to have a running back in that position that can get the job done."

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This is good news. Wear out Forte. Barber runs harder and makes defenders pay. Now they have to rely on Bell as the back up. Blitz pick up and talent aren't on his side in my opinion. Now if Forte can handle the whole load himself, then so be it. But I don't see it.

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