MOBILE, Ala. – Every running back that Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is coaching at the Senior Bowl would love to have the same success that Jordan Howard experienced as a rookie.
While the Bears coaching staff is spending the week in Mobile, Howard is in Orlando as part of the NFC Team in the Pro Bowl—a reward for his breakout first NFL season in Chicago.
"I'm excited for him," Loggains said. "It was earned. Jordan had a heck of a year, especially when you think about what happened and how the year played out for him with Jeremy [Langford] being the starter early on and Jordan coming on Week 4 the way he did."
Bears running back Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing with 1,313 yards.
Selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the draft out of Indiana, Howard opened the season third on the depth chart and didn't make his first start until Oct. 2 when both Langford and backup Ka'Deem Carey were injured.
Howard took the opportunity and ran with it—literally and figuratively—ultimately finishing second in the NFL in rushing behind fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys. Howard set Bears rookie rushing records with 1,313 yards and seven 100-yard games and joined Hall of Famer Walter Payton as the only Bears players to run for at least 1,300 yards while averaging more than five yards per carry.
"He's a hard-working kid," Loggains said. "He's quiet. He's a humble kid. You want success for guys like that. He's earned everything he got."
If there was such a thing as a "rookie wall," Howard bolted right through it. He closed his first season with a flourish, earning NFL offensive rookie of the month honors for December/January after rushing for 547 yards and four touchdowns in five games. During that span, he averaged 5.3 yards per attempt and produced three 100-yard games.
Initially selected as an alternate for the Pro Bowl, Howard replaced the Cardinals' David Johnson, who suffered a knee injury the final week of the regular season. The other running backs on the NFC squad are Elliott and the Eagles veteran Darren Sproles.
Loggains believes that Howard will benefit from being around some of the NFL's top veteran players this week at the Pro Bowl.
"That's invaluable for a young guy who is hungry and excited," Loggains said. "I think he hasn't scratched the surface of what he can be and maybe he'll learn how to take care of his body more from some of those guys who are pros who have been doing this a long time. I think that's the biggest thing.
"He didn't have the luxury of coming in and playing behind a Matt Forte and seeing what that was like. He came in, was a rookie in a young room. He can grow a lot that way."