LAKE FOREST, Unwell. – The Chicago Bears predict the return of a key offensive participant in time for Christmas.
Over a month faraway from touchdown on injured reserve with a hip damage sustained towards the Detroit Lions, Bears working again Khalil Herbert is eligible to return forward of Chicago’s Dec. 24 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
“We’re enthusiastic about getting him again subsequent week,” coach Matt Eberflus stated. “He’s been hitting his max speeds, and his jumps look good and his energy in his legs look nice. So we’re excited for that.”
On the time of his damage, which got here on Chicago’s remaining kick return in Week 10, Herbert was second on the staff in speeding (643 yards) behind quarterback Justin Fields. His 6.0 yards per rush nonetheless ranks No. 1 amongst all working backs and fourth total behind Fields and quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen.
Herbert will return to a backfield that has been carried by his working mate David Montgomery, with restricted contributions from Darrynton Evans and Trestan Ebner. Montgomery is 2 yards shy of Herbert’s speeding output (641 yards) and so they each have 4 speeding touchdowns regardless of Montgomery having performed in two extra video games this season.
Montgomery is in a contract 12 months, and his future with the Bears, whose earlier regime drafted him within the third spherical in 2019, stays unsure. There possible isn’t way more the 25-year-old working again can show to this group past what he’s already accomplished.
Montgomery led the Bears in speeding in every of his first three seasons and has not missed time due to vital accidents. He’s performed the fourth-most snaps of any Bears talent participant whereas averaging 54.3 speeding yards per sport and 4.0 yards per rush.
His future in Chicago hinges on first-year common supervisor Ryan Poles’ philosophy in relation to paying working backs high greenback or retooling the place with youthful, inexpensive gamers by way of the draft.
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If Montgomery hits free company, he’ll be a part of a loaded group of working backs trying to signal new offers. It’s a bunch headlined by Josh Jacobs, whose fifth-year choice was not picked up by the Las Vegas Raiders throughout the offseason. Jacobs has turned in league-best numbers throughout his contract 12 months, main the league with 1,402 speeding yards. His 11 speeding touchdowns and 346 receiving yards rank second amongst all working backs.
Saquon Barkley (1,083 speeding yards), Miles Sanders (1,068) and Tony Pollard (894) are additionally pending free brokers. Montgomery ranks eighth in speeding among the many 2023 UFA class, which can make it tough for him to signal a profitable new deal that may rank on the high of his place group. That would make it interesting for the Bears to maintain him within the fold given the staff’s estimated $130.9 million in cap house, per Roster Administration, for 2023.
Montgomery’s closest statistical comparability, in line with Spotrac, is Tampa Bay’s Leonard Fournette, who signed a three-year, $21 million extension with the Bucs final March. Within the two seasons previous to signing his extension, Fournette performed 81.82% of video games, averaged 43.67 speeding yards per sport, 3.89 receptions per sport and 0.52 speeding TDs per sport.
Over his final two seasons with the Bears, Montgomery has performed 82.76% of video games whereas averaging 59.54 speeding yards per sport, 2.63 receptions per sport and 0.42 speeding TDs per sport.
The place Montgomery has confirmed his worth to the Bears most this season got here is within the passing sport, the place he’s averaged a career-high 9.8 yards per catch. Through the spring, Eberflus stated he needed to stretch Montgomery’s position on this space, which has allowed the working again to develop his versatility.
“He’s accomplished a superb job of catching the ball out of the backfield,” Eberflus stated. “Definitely, we wish extra manufacturing. We at all times do from our backs as a result of we expect it’s a viable choice to throw the ball to your tight ends and backs within the low a part of the sphere. However he’s accomplished a extremely good job. And I can say he’s a unique runner than Khalil. He’s extra of a robust, energy, slasher man that breaks tackles and does a pleasant job of leaning ahead, and he’s grown that means. He’s persevering with to do a superb job.”
The Bears’ philosophy with their working again room is rooted in having totally different kinds of rushers contribute in numerous methods. What Herbert confirmed Chicago’s new brass throughout his second season might pave the way in which for him to take over Montgomery’s position subsequent 12 months with Ebner turning into Chicago’s RB2.
“The perspective on working backs is just not very excessive, no less than what I’ve observed,” Ebner stated. “They suppose we’re interchangeable, however there’s numerous guys like David the place they will exit and play each down and be a menace. I believe working backs are undervalued as a result of we accomplish that a lot, particularly whenever you get a man that may do all three or 4 issues — run, catch, block and return, too.”