Chicago Bears: Rookie Khalil Herbert shows versatility in NFL debut

Chicago Bears - Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert got his first taste of NFL action in the Bears’ 17-13 preseason win over the Miami Dolphins on Saturday. Herbert took reps with the second-team offense and showcased his versatility, being used as a rusher, receiver, and returner.

Herbert had a solid showing as a runner, putting up 38 yards on 6 carries, including a sixteen-yard run that put the Bears’ offense in the red zone. Herbert also seemed to have a good connection with fellow rookie Justin Fields. Fields were very comfortable checking down to Herbert when he couldn’t find an open player downfield. Even though Herbert only finished the game with 11 receiving yards, it’s good to see the confidence his coaches and teammates have in him as a pass-catcher.

Khalil Herbert adds more than just offense to Chicago Bears

The Bears also used Herbert in the special teams game. He returned a kickoff for 16 yards in the first half. With the departure of all-pro returner Cordarelle Patterson, the Bears are still looking for their starting kick-returner. Herbert, along with Jon’vea Johnson, Chris Lacy, and Jordan Lucas, seems to be competing for that spot. Herbert finished the game with a total of 65 all-purpose yards.

The 6th round selection out of Virginia Tech has a lot riding on the preseason. After David Montgomery, the Bears’ depth chart at running back is wide open. Change of pace back, Tarik Cohen is coming off a torn ACL, and free-agent acquisition Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season. This gives Herbert the opportunity to seize the backup spot with a strong showing in the preseason.

Herbert brings a unique skill set to the Bears’ backfield. He was a big play waiting to happen in college, averaging 7.6 yards per carry his senior year. He showed incredible game speed and was able to break away from defenders regularly. Herbert also has solid play strength and vision.

An area where Herbert will need to continue to improve is as a receiver. He caught only 10 passes in 11 games during his senior year at Virginia Tech. His work as a pass-catcher against the Dolphins was a step in the right direction, but he does still have a lot of room to grow there.

Next. Justin Fields impresses in debut. dark

The Bears have already taken notice of Herbert’s athleticism and versatility and are allowing him to make an impact in multiple ways. The lack of depth at kick-returner and backup running back could lead to Herbert getting a bigger role on the team as the season progresses.