The Chicago Bears running back unit is bulging here in OTAs, and a coach recently named whose starting job it is to lose this summer. The Bears will have a new featured running back this season after losing David Montgomery to the Detroit Lions in free agency.
The Chicago Bears have a stacked RB room
The Bears have Kahlil Herbert returning, who started games last season when Montgomery was out with an injury. 2022 sixth-round pick Trestan Ebner is back as well, but he will have to fight for a spot on the team during training camp after general manager Ryan Poles aggressively brought in talent at running back. The Bears signed D’Onta Foreman and Travis Homer in free agency. They might have cooked the board to draft Texas standout Roschon Johnson in the fourth round.
The running back position will be one of the most watched position battles on the Bears this offseason. They will look to keep the momentum the team had in the dynamic running game last year that saw them lead the league in rushing. It was unclear after the draft who the Bears thought would start for Montgomery this fall, but a new report gives us an idea of where the coaching staff is at on the running back position during OTAs.
Khalil Herbert will feel the heat this summer
Brad Biggs with the Chicago Tribune wrote about the running back battle this offseason. According to Bears’ running backs coach, David Walker, Herbert will be feeling the pressure this offseason to keep the starting job going into the regular season:
“Running backs coach David Walker said Herbert will get the first reps with the starters as the Bears get rolling. Then the competition is on, and among the variety of options is Trestan Ebner, a 2022 sixth-round pick.”
Herbert played in 13 games for the Bears last season (he missed a few games due to a hip injury that landed him on injured reserve.) and had solid production. He finished with 732 yards on 129 carries. Herbert added 57 yards receiving last season on nine catches. Those receiving numbers weren’t helped by Justin Fields refusing to check down and complete short passes last season. (Fields has said he’s working on improving his short passing game for next season.)
One knock against Herbert was his pass-blocking performance. He was dreadful against the New York Giants in Week 4. However, Herbert actually improved his pass-blocking for the rest of the season, surrendering one pressure the rest of the season. According to Pro Football Focus, Herbert finished seven games with a pass-blocking grade over 70.
It should be Herbert’s job to lose after his play last season. Foreman probably has the best opportunity to overtake Herbert during training camp of anyone else on the unit. But I think Johnson should get more reps as the season progresses and has the best chance to be the Bears’ long-term starter at running back. Johnson has impressed the Bears coaching staff during OTAs.
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