Chicago Bears will benefit from RB Khalil Herbert’s ‘unique style of running’

Herbert expected to return from hip injury

Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert tries to fend off Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph during their game Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

LAKE FOREST – Khalil Herbert had plenty of time to watch film over the past month while he was dealing with a hip injury.

The second-year Bears running back injured his hip on a kick return Nov. 13 against the Detroit Lions. It landed him on injured reserved, sidelined for a minimum of four games. With a bye week during that stretch, he hasn’t seen the football field in five weeks.

That left him with plenty of time to study on his tablet.

“One of the biggest thing [is], I feel like, falling forward on all my runs,” Herbert said Wednesday when evaluating his play. “Taking away the negative plays. Trying to find a way to get a yard or whatever if things break down.”

Bears running backs coach David Walker said that falling forward, for a ball carrier, is making sure that when there’s contact, he’s not letting the defender throw him backward or sideways.

“That’s done with your pad level,” Walker said. “We talk about the last three yards before contact and finishing through guys.”

Herbert is back at practice this week and appears to be ready to return to action Saturday against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. The Bears should have their one-two punch back at running back with starter David Montgomery and Herbert back in the mix.

Before the injury, Herbert was averaging 6 yards per carry with 643 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games. Until he suffered the hip injury, Herbert was out-gaining Montgomery on the ground.

A large part of that has been Herbert’s ability to hit holes quickly. With Herbert, there is little wasted space in his running motion. He doesn’t spent a lot of time trying to make defenders miss. Montgomery is much more shifty and spends more time moving laterally. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a different style.

“Unique style of running,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said of Herbert. “The cool patience that he has. The way guys can naturally bounce off of him, I think, is really cool. What’s really nice, too, is it’s a different type of back. I think there’s a value in that, and having two different types of style runners.”

Herbert said his hip injury is 100% healthy now. When he was out, the Bears used rookie sixth-round draft pick Trestan Ebner and free agent pickup Darrynton Evans as the second running back. Neither found the type of success Herbert did early in the season.

Adding Herbert back into the mix should give the Bears another dangerous runner. With cold and windy weather expected Saturday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bears kept the ball on the ground as much as possible.

“Accounting for all of us and Justin [Fields] puts a lot of stress on defenses,” Herbert said.

Injury report: The Bears could have a conundrum on the offensive line this week. Two starters sat out practice Wednesday.

Starting left guard Cody Whitehair (knee) and starting right guard Teven Jenkins (neck) missed practice. So did receiver Chase Claypool (knee), receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion), cornerback Kindle Vildor (ankle) and tight end Trevon Wesco (calf).

The good news for the O-line is that tackle Larry Borom is back from a knee injury. Getsy hinted that there could be some surprises at the guard positions if Whitehair and Jenkins can’t play this week.

“With the way that our line has kind of been banged up, I think the guys have been playing a lot of different positions,” Getsy said. “Larry has been inside and outside, [Alex] Leatherwood’s been inside and outside.”

Getsy went on to mention that starting right tackle Riley Reiff has even practiced at guard in recent weeks. The Bears also have rookie guard Ja’Tyre Carter on the roster, although Carter hasn’t played an offensive snap this season.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.