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2020 training camp preview: Running back

On the roster: Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Jason Huntley, Wes Hills, Nick Bawden (FB), Luke Sellers (FB)

Key losses: J.D. McKissic

Table inside Article
Name Games Att. Yards Avg. TD Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Kerryon Johnson 8 113 403 3.6 3 10 127 12.7 1
D’Andre Swift* 14 196 1,218 6.2 7 24 216 9.0 1
Bo Scarbrough 6 89 377 4.2 1 1 5 5.0 0
Ty Johnson 16 63 273 4.3 0 24 109 4.5 0
Jason Huntley* 12 154 1,090 7.1 9 40 192 4.8 2
Wes Hills 1 10 21 2.1 2 2 1 0.5 0
Nick Bawden 10 0 0 0.0 0 4 17 4.3 0
Luke Sellers* 12 4 8 2.0 0 1 8 8.0 1

*college stats

Best competition: Kerryon Johnson entered last year's training camp as the clear No. 1 in Detroit's backfield. That's not the case this year after the team spent a second-round draft pick on Swift, a talented and versatile runner out of Georgia. One of the big question marks entering camp this year is how second-year offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell plans to divvy up the carries in the backfield.

The Lions plan to run using a committee of backs, but it's also likely the hot hand will get the nod on Sunday. The good thing for Bevell and co. is this Lions backfield looks to have some versatility and differing skill sets. It should allow Bevell to match up pretty nicely with whatever a defense tries to throw at him.

There's also a third-down role to be carved out by one or more backs. McKissic left in free agency. His 34 receptions last year were fourth on the team. Kerryon Johnson, Swift, Ty Johnson and Huntley could all compete for a role there, as all four have shown to be accomplished receivers out of the backfield.

Twentyman's take: The addition of Swift, who some draft analysts considered the top back in this year's class, gives the Lions another explosive element to their backfield, and really solidifies the depth there.

Bevell wants to be more balanced than he was on offense last year, and with the addition of Swift, the Lions have nice depth and a lot of backs that bring a little something different to the table. Kerryon Johnson, when healthy, has shown to be a capable and explosive three-down back. Swift is a different runner than Kerryon, but has similar three-down back ability. Scarbrough is a thumper. Ty Johnson and Huntley have dynamic breakaway speed.

One of the things I'm looking forward to watching the most at camp this year is how the Lions deploy their backs. What will the different personnel packages look like? Could they use more two-back sets? How do they divvy up carries to begin with?

By the numbers:

6.56: The career average yards per carry for Swift, a new Georgia school record previously held by Todd Gurley.

1,000-plus: Huntley, who the Lions drafted in the fifth round out of New Mexico State, was the only running back in the 2020 class with at least 1,000 receiving yards (1,119). Huntley amassed 4,837 all-purpose yards in 46 career games.

377: Scarbrough's 377 rushing yards ranked fifth in the NFL among a player's first six career games since 2018.

1,000 & 4.5: Kerryon Johnson joins Barry Sanders as the only players in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards and average better than 4.5 yards per carry in their first 18 career games.

Quotable: "Put whoever you want to in there," Lions head coach Matt Patricia told detroitlions.com. "The immediate value is, it puts pressure on the defensive coordinator. What is it? A personnel group with all three of those backs (Kerryon Johnson, Swift and Scarbrough) looks completely different. As a coordinator, you need to prepare for that."

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