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Bears 2024 position preview: Running back


The following is the second of nine position previews in advance of training camp.

The Bears bolstered their running back room this offseason by adding veteran Pro Bowler D'Andre Swift in free agency to join four-year pro Khalil Herbert and 2023 fourth-round pick Roschon Johnson.

Swift enters his fifth NFL season, having recently played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023 where he set career-highs in carries (229), rushing yards (1,049) and scrimmage yards (1,263) while playing in 16 games with 15 starts. The Philadelphia native also finished the regular season ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards and added six total touchdowns.

The Georgia product, who was selected No. 35 overall by the Lions in the 2020 NFL Draft, is also highly regarded for his skills as a pass catcher. Since entering the league, Swift ranks fourth among running backs in receiving yards (1,412) and receptions (195). He is also tied for seventh in receiving first downs and 14th in receiving touchdowns.

"D'Andre has looked really good during this offseason," coach Matt Eberflus said May 31. "Obviously, you guys know he's very quick. He's a weapon out of the backfield which is outstanding for our passing game, and it's going to create some mismatches for us. He can do a lot of things from the backfield. He can split them out wide and run the full route tree. He's exciting to watch."

After signing with the Bears in March as their first free-agency acquisition of 2024, Swift told reporters he chose Chicago because "it came down to where I was wanted the most."

When asked what he can bring to the offense, Swift added: "Playmaking ability. A team-first guy, a great locker room guy, a guy that wants to win first and foremost. That's what it's all about. A guy who is going to come in here and work every single day, the same mentality every single day. Looking forward to winning and getting the most out of me. That's all. This city and this organization are going to get that."

Swift was also eager to join an established running back room with Herbert, who was drafted by the Bears in 2021, and Johnson, who was selected 115th overall in 2023.

"It's a great running back room," Swift said. "I was real familiar with it before I got here. A lot of talent in the running back room. However it plays out, I don't expect anything coming into it. I'm going to come here and work and earn whatever role that they have for me."

Herbert has appeared in 42 games with 12 starts for the Bears, totaling 1,775 rushing yards and eight rushing TDs on 364 carries. The veteran has been a staple in the Bears' successful running game the past two seasons, when they ranked first in the NFL in rushing yards in 2022 and second in 2023.

Last season, Herbert appeared in 12 games with nine starts. Despite missing five games on injured reserve due to an ankle injury, Herbert had an efficient season, totaling 611 yards with two touchdowns on a team-high 132 carries.

Another returning piece from last year's strong rushing attack, Johnson will look continue his development after playing in 15 games as a rookie. Johnson exhibited steady improvement throughout the season, totaling 352 yards and two touchdowns on 81 carries. The Texas product also caught 24 passes for 209 yards and led all Bears rookies in carries, rushing yards, catches, receiving yards, touchdowns and scrimmage yards in 2023.

"I love Roschon," Eberflus said in February. "He's done a great job and we'll see where he develops. I've always said from first year to second year, that's where you make your biggest jump, and I love right now where he is in his development."

The competition at running back in training camp will also feature six-year pro Travis Homer and undrafted free agent Ian Wheeler.

Homer is entering his second season with the Bears after spending the first four years of his career in Seattle, who selected him in the sixth-round of the 2019 draft. Last season, Homer appeared in all 16 games and primarily played on special teams. He tied cornerback Jaylon Jones for the team lead in special teams tackles with seven, including five solo tackles.

Wheeler joined the Bears this spring after playing five years at Howard where he totaled 177 carries for 1,154 yards and 14 touchdowns. A three-time MEAC All-Conference selection as a return specialist, Wheeler returned 52 kicks for 1,322 yards and three TDs in his college career.

At fullback, Khari Blasingame enters his sixth NFL season and third with the Bears. In 2023, he played in all 16 games and carried the ball eight times for 26 yards.