Bears notes: RB Khalil Herbert makes case for more carries by shining in opener

One of the most interesting aspects of the Bears’ offense in the opener was the way coordinator Luke Getsy leaned on No. 2 running back Khalil Herbert when the game was on the line.

With the Bears ahead 13-10 and holding possession at the 49ers’ 21-yard line after Eddie Jackson’s interception with 9:42 remaining, Herbert got the ball on 4 of 5 plays before he finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run.

In total, David Montgomery ran 17 times for 26 yards and caught three passes for 24, while Herbert rushed for 45 yards on nine carries and caught one pass for minus-two yards.

Herbert matched Fields for the Bears’ longest run of the day at 12 yards, but even aside from that big play he averaged 4.1 yards per carry.

“Some of them holes were pretty big,” coach Matt Eberflus said in a nod to the offensive line. “And he’s got a good pad level to him. He’s got a good style. The touchdown run was pretty good vision and a really good cut by him.”

Herbert was a sixth-round pick last year (No. 217 overall, 15th among running backs) and showed promise as a rookie with 433 yards rushing (4.2 per carry) and two touchdowns. When Montgomery was out with an injury for four games early in the season, Herbert averaged 86 yards per game and 4.4 per carry.

It’s likely Getsy will look to split the workload between Montgomery and Herbert. When he was on Packers coach Matt LaFleur’s staff last season, A.J. Dillon got 187 carries, and Aaron Jones got 171.

Don’t even try

Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said last week the only reason he didn’t have name recognition yet as one of the best players at his position was that he doesn’t get many interceptions. But he defended his work by saying that hardly anyone in the NFL covers receivers as fiercely and consistently as he does.

The 49ers seemed to agree.

Quarterback Trey Lance threw 28 passes, but none to a receiver matched up against Johnson. Johnson played 26 snaps in pass coverage, which is the third-highest without seeing a ball thrown his way by any outside cornerback in the last three seasons.

Penalty-free on offense

The Bears committed just three accepted penalties Sunday, a sign that Eberflus’ insistence on having officials on hand throughout training camp — including Big Ten refs when NFL ones weren’t available — made a difference.

“We use those guys to educate us, and they do a great job when they come in,” he said. “That’s probably our cleanest game, even through the preseason. That’s a tribute to the players who have been paying attention.”

The team averaged 6.2 penalties per game last season.

None of the penalties Sunday were on offense, where the only flag thrown was on an intentional delay of game by Justin Fields for better positioning on a punt. The 49ers declined it.

The 49ers, meanwhile, committed 12 penalties for 99 yards.

Right guard rotation

It’s rare to see drama at right guard of all positions, but there’s plenty of it with the Bears as they try to assess whether former second-round pick Teven Jenkins or free-agent signee Lucas Patrick is better suited for the position.

Jenkins started and played 31 snaps while Patrick played 27 in what Eberflus said was a planned rotation. He gave no indication Monday of which player looked better, saying they both “had a solid performance.”

Neither player was originally brought in to play right guard. Former general manager Ryan Pace drafted Jenkins to be the left tackle of the future. Patrick signed on as a center, but that’s not an ideal position as he plays through a broken thumb on his right hand.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.