Lorenzo Booker's 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Bears' victory over the Washington Redskins last week at least served notice that the battle for the No. 3 running back spot is not just between Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen.
The 5-10, 200-pound Booker has played primarily special teams in four NFL seasons with the Dolphins (2007), Eagles (2008) and Vikings (2009-10). He signed with the Bears a week before training camp began.
It remains to be seen what the kick return touchdown does for Booker's chances of making the Bears' roster. Reserves have to contribute on special teams, but as impressive as Booker's return was, the Bears already have better returners in Devin Hester and Eric Weems.
''It doesn't matter to me that the greatest returner of all time and another Pro Bowler [Eric Weems] is here. I want to be here,'' Booker said. ''It's a great team. They have one of the better special-teams units, especially on returns. I want to contribute.''
Booker, a southern California native who played at Florida State, has a knack for making instant impact. When he signed with the Vikings late in the 2010 season, he returned his second career kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against the New York Giants, but it was nullified by a penalty. His touchdown against the Redskins came on his second kickoff return with the Bears.
''He really did that on his own,'' Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. ""We had a guy come down unblocked and he had to avoid him and he ended up outside the blocking and he had to beat three guys. It was a heck of a return."
For Booker, a third-round pick of the Dolphins in 2007, it's a great return to have on tape.
''I guess one of the good things about it is it showed a lot of my own personal ability,'' Booker said. ''Running through a crease is obviously something that you're not going to argue with. If you asked me if I wanted to have to make six guys miss going into it, I'd have said, 'Heck no.' But it ended up working out.''
That said, Booker has a fine appreciation for the team effort on his return.
''I made a lot of guys miss, but from the 50 on in I had like five guys with me. That lets you know the hustle of the team,'' he said. ''I mean five guys -- who has five guys with them when they're running back a kickoff? That just doesn't happen. And it sure didn't happen when I was back in Minnesota.
''I had a whole convoy there. It made me feel good. I was just looking at the Jumbotron the whole time.''