LAKE FOREST — With Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the short passing game keyed the Bears five-game winning streak. But with Caleb Hanie, and now Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell out there, that short passing game has been missing.

LAKE FOREST — With Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the short passing game keyed the Bears five-game winning streak. But with Caleb Hanie, and now Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell out there, that short passing game has been missing.

As have the victories.

“There’s definitely a huge sense of urgency, and no choices but to go get a win right here,” Hanie (0-2 as a starter) said of Sunday’s game at Denver (7-5).

Hanie has yet to find a rhythm, going 18-for-36 for 254 yards with two TDs in Oakland and 11-for-24 for 133 yards against the Chiefs in two games since Cutler broke his thumb. Hanie threw three interceptions in each game.

Forte, out for 2-4 weeks with a sprained MCL, has been up and down, but still heads into his first week “off” as the league’s No. 3 rusher (997 yards) and tops the charts in yards from scrimmage (1,487). He has just 71 yards receiving in his last five games after having 287 in his first three.

But Forte is still easily the team’s top pass catcher, hauling in 52 receptions for 490 yards. Johnny Knox (33-675), Devin Hester (25-355) and Roy Williams (24-335) are way behind Forte when it comes to targets and yards after the catch.

“Matt was unusual, he was very unusual. Putting him out as a wide receiver and some of the things we’ve done in the past, it’s a little different,” offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. “But each one of those other players, both Kahlil and Marion, have different strengths ... Between the two of them, we can get what we need, to be able to do what we do on offense.”

The numbers tell a different story.

Barber had 174 receptions for 1,280 yards in six seasons with the Cowboys, with fewer than 300 yards in his best season.

“He’s not that type of player. He’s more of an in-the-tackles type of runner,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Kahlil can probably do more of the things that Matt Forte can do.”

Barber, who has three catches for 18 yards this year, would not stop to discuss his receiving abilities after practice Wednesday. He has refused to talk to reporters on all but two occasions since signing with Chicago in July.

When Bell was asked if he could get Barber to make a couple of comments, Bell replied: “Good luck; good luck with that one.”

As for Bell’s pass-catching skills, he has caught one ball for four yards in his two-plus years in a Bears’ uniform. He had 196 career yards receiving at UCLA and only 160 receiving yards in high school.

“I feel like I can catch the ball. If they need me to do that, I’m going to do that to the best of my abilities,” Bell said Wednesday. “I just think as you get older, you see what an every-down back in the league has to do. I didn’t really catch a lot of balls coming out of college. Since I’ve been here, we’ve worked on it every day.

“As you get older, the coaches get more comfortable with you and you earn their trust.”

Bell has definitely earned Hanie’s trust.

“Kahlil does a great job catching the ball. He’s only got one catch, but I’ve had a lot of work with him on the scout team in the last two or three seasons, and I feel very comfortable with him,” Hanie said. “I’m confident in his ability. He’s a good receiver, and he can make plays on the edge.”

Denver’s speedy defense will test that theory on Sunday afternoon.

Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or jtaft@rrstar.com.