The Detroit Lions offense was at its best in last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens when D’Andre Swift was on the field, and that fact has not been lost on Lions coach Dan Campbell.
“I certainly think you’re going to see a lot more Swift and he could very easily be out there first play” this week against the Chicago Bears, Campbell said. “He’s done enough to earn that if that’s what you’re asking, for sure.”
Swift leads the Lions in rushing yards (123) and receptions (19 for 166 yards) through three weeks and is tied for the team lead with two touchdowns.
The second-year back said he does not care who starts in the Lions’ backfield, him or Jamaal Williams, as long as he’s in place to help the Lions on game days.
Williams, who has started every game this season, has 121 yards rushing on 28 carries, five fewer than Swift, and is third on the team with 13 receptions. Swift has played about 50% more snaps than Williams (134 to 85) this season.
“Starting doesn’t matter to me at all,” Swift said. “As long as I’m able to impact the team, impact the team in some way, shape or form, that’s fine with me.”
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After sputtering through a scoreless first half last week, the Lions moved the ball efficiently down the field on their first possession of the second half, when they made Swift a feature part of their offense.
Swift caught three passes for 44 yards on the drive, converted a third-and-1 with a 2-yard plunge up the middle, and capped the possession with a short touchdown run.
He finished with more than 100 yards from scrimmage for the second time this season and enters this week second in the league among catches by a running back, behind only Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Najee Harris (20 catches, 149 yards).
“Look, he’s a weapon for us, he really is,” Campbell said. “He’s a dynamic player and I think he’s just, every week he’s improving. And the more that he shows, the more we put on him. Cause look, it’s one thing physically, but also mentally, there’s a lot that we’re asking him to do. And I thought he handled it pretty well the other day. It wasn’t perfect, but certainly it was enough to help move the football down the field.”
A mismatch for most linebackers, Swift will face his toughest individual test of the season Sunday against Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, his former teammate at Georgia.
Swift recalled playing against Smith in practice as a freshman in 2017, and called Smith “one of the best cover linebackers I went against still to this day.”
“Definitely looking forward to the matchup,” he said. “Great linebacker, great instincts. It’s going to make me turn my game up even more. Knowing I’m going against a guy like that, I got to stay on my Ps and Qs and do my job.”
Swift remains a limited participant in practice because of the groin injury that limited him in training camp, but he said Wednesday the injury is no longer an issue.
“I’m fine. I’m good,” he said. “They’ve done a great job working with me, allowing me to get ready for a game, I would say it like that.”
Along with Swift, defensive lineman Michael Brockers and outside linebacker Romeo Okwara were limited by shoulder injuries, and Trey Flowers was out with the shoulder and knee injuries that forced him to miss the Ravens game.