Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift owns the skillset to be a featured back, but first, his team needs him to stay healthy.
The former second-round pick has missed seven games in his first two seasons, including four in 2021 with an injured shoulder.
Running backs coach and assistant head coach Duce Staley challenged Swift heading into the season.
“Injuries happen, but one of the things Swift and I had a conversation about is you’ve got to be able to play through some of these injuries as a running back,” Staley said via the Detroit Free Press. “We all know there’s a difference between being injured and hurt. As soon as you step in this building as a running back, Day One training camp, you’re not going to feel the same.
“There will be some things you have to fight through.”
Staley, who played 10 NFL seasons with the Eagles and Steelers, noted that luck plays a factor in some injuries — Swift missed two games in his rookie season due to a concussion — saying playing running back involved “violent car wrecks.”
“Playing running back, you’re going to take your fair share of hits,” Staley said. “You just have to make sure you protect yourself when it’s the time to protect yourself and then there’s going to be time to put it all out there.”
In his first two seasons, Swift has shown flashes of playmaking ability but has yet to find consistency to hoist himself into the top tier of backs. He earned just one game with more than 15 carries in 2021 (33 totes for 130 yards in a tie in Pittsburgh).
The 23-year-old reportedly bulked up this offseason in an effort to help avoid the dings and injuries that hurt him in the past.
The Lions have a solid top running back duo in Swift and Jamaal Williams, who possess complementary skill sets in a run-first offense. But if Swift can handle a bigger workload, it would make a growing offense that much more explosive.
“There’s no doubt he makes us better, he’s a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands and we’re going to use him as such,” Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said of Swift.
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