Khalil Herbert

Khalil Herbert wants to be starter in Bears RB competition

Khalil Herbert wasn't surprised when the Bears drafted Roschon Johnson and signed D'Onta Foreman. Now he's ready to fight for his job.

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When David Montgomery signed on with the Lions instead of returning to the Bears, it looked like things were setting up for the team to draft a running back, sign a role player to add depth, and let Khalil Herbert take over as the team’s lead running back. After all, Herbert’s 5.7 YPC average led all RBs in the NFL last season. His one-cut-and-go style fits what the Bears want to do in their zone rushing scheme, too.

But Ryan Poles opted to not only draft a rookie, but sign two veteran rushers in free agency as well. Now the Bears running backs room is packed with Herbert, D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer and Trestan Ebner.

On Wednesday, Herbert said he wasn’t surprised by the big influx of players at his position, despite his success last year.

“You know how things go in the NFL now,” Herbert said. “They’re doing things running back by committee. You need one, two, three, really good guys that really carry the rock and there be no dropoff. I feel like as a group, we’ve got a really strong group. We’ve got guys who can take it to the house at any given moment.”

The Bears have made it clear there’s no depth chart yet. Instead they have a “reps chart” that determines how many snaps each guy will get in the summer program. From there, they’ll let competition sort things out. The competition in the running backs room could be one of the fiercest of the offseason, but Herbert is going to fight for his job with a calm mindset.

“Every day, you gotta compete,” Herbert said. “You gotta compete. And I come in with the mindset, obviously, that I want to be the starter. Just coming in with the mindset of leading and doing what I gotta do and doing what I do every day and have been doing. I feel like things will work out.”

What helps Herbert stay calm is that he doesn’t believe he has anything to prove to anyone.

“I just go out there and do my job. I like to prove myself right really, that's about it. If I just go out there, do my job, do what I've got to do, the rest will take care of itself.”

Looking back at last year, if there’s one glaring weakness in Herbert’s game it’s his pass protection. Herbert knows that so it’s something he addressed since the end of the 2022 campaign.

“You've got to be an every down back, so that's a big part of it.”

He’s ventured beyond typical drills to get better at that aspect of the game.

“I did boxing this offseason just to work on my punch time. You know, different things like that. Everybody's different but that's what I tried working on to help me.”

The Bears have acknowledged that Herbert will get the first crack at starting reps, but from there anyone can win the job. The team is incredibly high on Johnson as a complete back. Foreman proved he can handle a true bellcow role after the Panthers traded Christian McCaffery.

The running back competition will be one to watch as the Bears’ summer program continues.

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