D'Andre Swift will be the "man" in the Detroit Lions' backfield in 2021.
Translation: He's due for an uptick in carries and overall production going into his second season in the league.
Swift, who was drafted in the second round (No. 35 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft, amassed 114 rushing attempts for 521 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games as a rookie.
The Georgia product also contributed in the passing game, pulling in 46 balls for 357 yards and two additional scores.
His "coming-out party" came in Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, when he rushed for a career-high 116 yards, to go along with a career-best two touchdowns.
By doing so, Swift became the first Detroit rookie back to rush for two scores and at least 100 yards in a game since Lions legend Barry Sanders did so in Week 14 of the 1989 season against the Chicago Bears (26 carries for 120 yards and two TDs).
All in all, it was a solid debut campaign for the Philadelphia, Pa., native, although he started in just four games.
Subsequently, expectations for Swift entering his sophomore NFL season are rather high among Detroit fans and pundits alike.
Among those who hold Swift in high regard is former NFL running back and ex-Philadelphia Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley, who is now Swift's RBs coach in the Motor City.
"Saw him in high school. We all saw him at Georgia and what he brought to the table -- just a complete back that was able to do it all," Staley explained on an SB Nation Pride of Detroit podcast in March. "First-down, second-down, third-down. He's the guy that you want to keep on the field. He brings problems to the defense, and his skill set is good. So, I can't wait to work with him, and hopefully, I can take it to a whole other level. That's my goal."
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“To watch him in our Phase Two day, we did a little bit of work out there and to get these guys moving around, I would say his twitch and his quickness definitely shows up," Detroit head coach Dan Campbell explained last week. "It was a breath of fresh air to see it. Look, I said this from day one, we’re excited to be able to work with him. We think he’s got a lot of talent, and he’s got so much room to grow. To have Jamaal (Williams) in there with him, I think will do wonders. But, obviously, to be with Duce (Staley) -- I think Duce is going to pull the best out of this kid. He’s going to really grow, so we’re excited about him.”
Swift will have competition in the Lions' backfield in the form of former Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams.
Williams, who spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in Green Bay, rushed 119 times for 505 yards and two scores in 14 games in 2020. He also caught 31 balls for 236 yards and a TD.
From all accounts, though, Swift will still be Detroit's No. 1 back entering the 2021 season.
"A lot of people think you got to go have 20 carries as a running back to be successful, and sometimes you do," Staley told Detroit reporters in February. "But, touches, when you have a good back, an electrifying back, touches are definitely more important. You can get 18 carries and seven touches as far as receptions and you have 25 touches, which is what you want from your star back. When I look at D'Andre, I do think he's a three-down back, and like I said, he has some special traits I can't wait to get my hands on. So, I'm excited about that."
My '21 stat line prediction for Swift: 143 rushes, 728 yards and 10 touchdowns, to go along with 507 yards and two TDs as a pass-catcher
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