It was no coincidence Detroit's offense perked up and helped get the team back into the game in the second half Sunday against Baltimore as soon as running back D’Andre Swift became more of a focal point in the offense.
Swift, Detroit's talented second-year running back out of Georgia, had only six touches in a scoreless first half for the Lions, adding up to just 39 total yards.
But Swift became a big part of the offense in the second half. Detroit's first scoring drive of the game came in the third quarter on a possession where Swift caught three passes for 44 yards and rushed three times, including a two-yard touchdown run to cap the drive off.
He finished with seven catches for 60 yards and 47 rushing yards with a touchdown on 14 carries.
Through three weeks, Swift ranks second among all running backs with 19 receptions, and his 289 scrimmage yards are fourth most.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday the plan is to get the football into Swift's hands even more moving forward.
"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 because 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."
Swift missed most of training camp with a groin injury, and it's limited him in practice some to begin the season, but he and the Lions seem to be managing it pretty well. Swift hasn't missed a game.
"I, certainly, think you're going to see a lot more of Swift and he can very easily be out there first play," Campbell said. "I think he's done enough to earn that."
Swift says he's ready for any potential increase in touches.
"Whatever workload they see for me on Sundays ... whatever it is, I'll do it to the best of my ability," Swift said Wednesday.
Bears middle linebacker Roquan Smith will likely be tasked with trying to limit Swift in both the run and pass game Sunday in Chicago. Smith and Swift are close friends from their time at Georgia together, and Swift thinks Smith is one of the best cover linebackers in the league.
Cleveland's Kareem Hunt racked up 155 yards and a touchdown on 16 touches in a 26-6 win over Chicago last week. Hunt caught six passes for 74 yards.
PLANNING FOR CHICAGO
Chicago head coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday that Andy Dalton is No. 1 on the depth chart at quarterback, when healthy. Dalton missed last week's game due to a knee injury, so rookie Justin Fields made the start. He completed just six passes and was sacked nine times.
Dalton was expected to practice Wednesday, but Nagy is waiting to name a starter for Sunday to see how Dalton's knee responds this week.
Campbell is expecting to see both Dalton and Fields.
"I think that, certainly, (Justin) Fields is going to play some, but I'm sure it'll be – if (Andy) Dalton can go, it will be him," Campbell said. "And if not, it will be (Bears QB Nick) Foles. I think there will be a lot of, just knowing the background of Foles, it will be a lot more gun run type things, RPOs, which are kind of similar things they were trying to do with Fields. I think Dalton brings a little more variety just on what he's able to do, but we'll be prepared for both."
After catching eight passes and a touchdown in each of his first two games of the season, Baltimore did a pretty good job last week taking tight end T.J. Hockenson away as a passing option for Detroit.
Hockenson was targeted just twice. He caught both passes for 10 yards.
"I think that's on us as a staff," Campbell said. "We've got to be more creative in the way that we try to get him the ball. We're going to have to move him a little bit more and shift him and try to hide him if we can, or at least give him some access. And then even after all of that, if they are still willing to (double him), the second read has got to be somebody we think can win. He's got to be able to win for us."
Lions tight ends coach Ben Johnson said using more stacked and bunch formations with Hockenson will make it difficult for defenses to double him.