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Bears rookie Herbert's comfort level growing

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Every once in a while, Khalil Herbert's cell phone reminds the Bears rookie running back of just how far he's come in the last 12 months.

"I've got Snapchat, so my memories will come up," Herbert said, "and just looking back a year ago from today, I was just getting ready for my first college game at VT (Virginia Tech) or I just played in my second or third game, so [I'm] just seeing the difference in a year and how different things can change and how fast things can change."

Selected by the Bears in the sixth round of this year's draft, Herbert catapulted from third on the depth chart to the top spot in less than two weeks. First, starter David Montgomery was sidelined with a knee injury, and then backup Damien Williams was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Splitting carries with Williams in a Week 5 win over the Raiders, Herbert rushed for 75 yards on 18 attempts. With both Montgomery and Williams unavailable to play against the Packers last Sunday, Herbert excelled in his first NFL start. The only Bears running back to touch the ball on offense, he rushed for 97 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.

Herbert revealed Thursday that he's more comfortable on the field and in the offense with the recent experience he's gained. 

"Yeah, just definitely the speed of the game," Herbert said. "Just being able to go out there, things are starting to slow down a lot more than, I feel like, two weeks ago." 

Herbert has displayed vision and patience while running with the ball.

"It's just something that I've worked on through college, especially the offenses I've been in," said the 5-9, 212-pounder. "It was kind of a big thing that we did. So, just getting that feel and that flow to the game, it sets things up. It's something I've worked on and it's helped me get to where I am right now."

Herbert and the Bears ground game will face a difficult assignment Sunday in Tampa when they battle a Buccaneers run defense that's ranked No. 1 in the NFL, allowing an average of just 54.8 yards per game. 

"I love challenges, so the O-line, we're getting ready to go down there and do what we do best: run the ball," Herbert said. "It's definitely a challenge. We'll see if we're up for it."

Herbert understands that explosive runs don't happen on a regular basis in the NFL.

"Famine, famine, feast is something we talk about in the running back room," he said. "You might get your three-yard gains, four-yard gains, but eventually one is going to burst. So, just taking those three yards, taking what they give you, and then making them pay when they mis-fit or something like that."

Herbert, who has caught just two passes for 15 yards this season, hopes to become a multi-dimensional back and regularly hones his receiving skills in practice.

"It's something I work on every day," Herbert said, "just being able to be that checkdown or catch the ball in space, go downfield and catch the ball, be that all-around back."

The Bears hit the practice fields at Halas Hall Wednesday ahead of Sunday afternoon's game against the Buccaneers in Tampa.

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