Fri, 18 Sep 2020

One of the more anticipated training camp competitions on the horizon for the Detroit Lions is at running back. How will the team decide to split reps between this year's second-round pick D'Andre Swift and the veteran Kerryon Johnson?

With the Lions hitting the practice field for the first time next week since drafting Swift out of Georgia back in April, it's something the Lions coaching staff is looking forward to.

"I'm excited to get him out on the grass and see exactly what he's got," Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said in a Zoom call with reporters Saturday. "See how he can take this information from the meeting rooms and put it on the field and how well he can make the adjustments and see the things he needs to see to play at a high level for us.

"That remains to be seen. Unfortunately, since we haven't been out there on the grass so much, I think a lot of the questions, that's going to be the answer, we have to wait and see."

Bevell said Swift's been quiet in the virtual meetings, trying to gather as much information as he can. He thinks Swift has done a nice job picking up the mental part of the game. Like everyone else, Bevell is now excited to see how that translates to the field.

Swift took home All-SEC honors last season after rushing for 1,218 yards and averaging 6.2 yards per carry. For his career, Swift averaged 6.6 yards per carry, a Georgia school record.

Johnson, a second-round pick out of Auburn in 2018, has been good as Detroit's lead back the last two seasons, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but injuries have limited him to just 18 games over that stretch.

By adding Swift, the Lions hope they have a nice one-two punch at running back. The depth chart hasn't been determined yet. Not having any OTA or minicamp practices in the spring didn't help. Not having any preseason games to evaluate won't help either. There's a shortened timeframe of about two weeks with padded practices in which to make that decision.

"Certainly very excited to have him in the building," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Swift last week. "Certainly from the running back position with a rookie, there's a lot to learn, there's a lot to go over, a lot of information, we did as much as we could virtually there.

"But it would be good to see that in live practice reps and to see the reaction time to that, not only when he has the ball in his hand but when he doesn't and be able to get in to different positions and see defenses and recognize some of the things we do in the NFL that may be a little bit different for him."

There's going to be good competition at a lot of roster spots for the Lions in training camp, but a lot of eyes will be on the running backs to see how Swift fits into the mix and how the Lions decide to distribute the ball.

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