Impressive throughout training camp, Bears rookie running back Khalil Herbert carried over what he's shown on the practice field into Saturday's preseason opener.
The sixth-round draft pick from Virginia Tech rushed for 38 yards on six carries, caught three passes for 16 yards and had a 16-yard kickoff return in a 20-13 victory over the Dolphins at Soldier Field.
"He's really caught my attention," said coach Matt Nagy. "He's somebody that you talk about the word trust, he hasn't made many mistakes as a rookie. He's very, very smooth. When he gets the football, you can see the burst that he has. He's always going to go forward with yards. I just really like where he's at right now."
Herbert showed the awareness of a veteran when he caught a 6-yard pass and alertly went out of bounds, stopping the clock with :16 left in the first half. The heads-up play enabled the Bears to save their final timeout and eventually score their first points of the game on Cairo Santos' 53-yard field goal as time expired in the half.
"We practice that every day, two-minute," Herbert said. "We really harp on being able to put points on the board, especially with two minutes left. It was nothing that we haven't done in practice; just go out there and execute and when plays are called, make plays, and get out of bounds."
“He’s really caught my attention … He’s very, very smooth. When he gets the football, you can see the burst that he has.” Bears coach Matt Nagy on Khalil Herbert
More snaps: Nagy revealed that starting quarterback Andy Dalton will play more in Saturday's second preseason game against the Bills than the six snaps he took versus the Dolphins, when he completed 2 of 4 passes for 18 yards.
"It's hard to say much good or bad about that with the six plays, so we're going to get him some more snaps this coming preseason game," Nagy said.
The Bears coach stressed that there's been no change to the team's plan to start Dalton and groom rookie Justin Fields behind him. But Nagy also indicated that he hopes to get the first-round draft pick some preseason game reps with the No. 1 offense.
"I think that that's real," Nagy said. "I think you need to look into that and you need to be able to see, 'OK, not even so much to see that with his own players because he gets some of that in practice right now. But, also, it can be good to see what he does versus the first-team defense.'"
Top plays: Cornerback Jaylon Johnson produced a highlight-reel play in Monday's practice by leaping high over receiver Marquise Goodwin to intercept a pass in the end zone on a post pattern. It was Johnson's second pick of the day. Fields connected on a perfectly-thrown long pass down the left sideline to tight end Jesse James. Safety Teez Tabor drifted to his right to make an impressive interception. And Dalton completed a long pass on a post pattern to receiver Damiere Byrd.
Back in action: Nose tackle Eddie Goldman practiced for the first time since Aug. 2 after being removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list last Friday. Goodwin, safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. and cornerback Artie Burns returned from injuries.
On the shelf: Players who did not practice included outside linebackers Robert Quinn (ankle) and Ledarius Mack (hamstring), running back Ryan Nall (chest), tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (illness) and safety Michael Joseph (broken thumb). Receiver Rodney Adams and cornerback Desmond Trufant did not practice due to undisclosed personal reasons.
Roster Moves: The Bears waived guard Gage Cervenka, receiver Jester Weah and cornerback Dionte Ruffin. With the signing of left tackle Jason Peters, their roster is now at 86. NFL teams must trim down to 85 players by Tuesday, 80 by Aug. 24 and 53 by Aug. 31.