Chicago Bears rookie Khalil Herbert keeps running game alive without David Montgomery

Louis Riddick criticizes the Bears for failing to place rookie QB Justin Fields into a position of success. (1:39).
LAKE FOREST (Ill.) -- Khalil Herbert was barely drafted on weekend.

Herbert was selected by the Bears as the 217th overall selection in the sixth round from Virginia Tech. Herbert spent more time at his introductory news conference talking about how he was born with six feet on his left foot and twelve fingers, two of which have been removed, than discussing his potential role for the Bears.

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It was easy.

Herbert was the standout rusher for the Hokies last year (1,183 yards, eight touchdowns) as well as for Kansas from 2016 through 2019, (35 career games), 1,735 rushing yard and 14 touchdowns), but the Bears seemed to be in a good place with veteran Damien Williams and David Montgomery -- not to mention Tarik, who is still recovering from an ACL tear.

The Bears claimed Herbert was drafted primarily by them to assist in kickoff return games.

But Herbert's contributions to rookie teams have gone far beyond the ordinary.

Montgomery is on injured reserve after sustaining a sprained leg in Week 5, while Williams has been dealing with injuries to his thigh and knees since Week 5. Herbert has become Chicago's feature back and continues to grind at an impressive pace.

He prepares like a professional. He seizes every opportunity. He isn't afraid to ask questions. He's enjoying football, and that's the most important thing," Bears running backs coach Michael Pitre stated last week. He's a good person and he has the ability to help this team.

Khalil Herbert was originally drafted to fill a special team role. He has done a great job for David Montgomery. Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

Herbert has averaged 4.41 yards per run since the Bears' win over the Raiders 20-9 Week 5. Herbert has now rushed for 344 yards, fourth in the league. Herbert's 78 rushing attempts rank second only to Derrick Henry, the Tennessee Titans' running back.

Herbert stated, "I feel like the game is slowing down for me."

It's sometimes easy to mistake Herbert for Montgomery. Both have a low center gravity, which allows them to burst through gaps on the offensive line. Herbert, at 5'9 and 212 pounds, has proven difficult to tackle in open fields as well as in tight spaces close to the line of scrimmage.

Matt Nagy, Bears coach, said that Herbert is an excellent decision-maker. He makes quick decisions and hits the ground with a low-contact balance. "So there aren't a lot negative yards which is very important. This, combined with his confidence, will only make him more confident every day. His demeanor is just amazing. He is a team player.

Herbert among NFL's Top 5 Player Rush yards Carries Yards Per Carry Derrick Henry, Titans 427106 4.03 Jonathan Taylor Colts 37563 5.95 Damien Harris Patriots 34569 5.00 Khalil Herbert Bears 34478 4.41 Darrell Henderson Rams 29567 4.40

Pitre stated that Khalil is a natural visionary, but the system is all set up with 10 other field guys doing their jobs. This allows him to do his job. He has a great understanding of our scheme and what we do. The offensive line, tight ends and receivers do a fantastic job of blocking their tails. He is able to do his job much more easily because of it.

Montgomery's return to the stage is certain. Herbert may not get the majority of the touches for long, but the experience gained during this stretch is invaluable.

Sam Mustipher, Bears center, said that Khalil "can do it all." "Just the way that he runs behind pads, his vision and ability to explode through contact with others, and his ability understand his assignments. He runs hard."

Cole Kmet, second-year tight end, sums it all up well.

He said, "Khalil is awesome since he arrived... just amazing."