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NOTEBOOK: Swift emerging as a clear threat in passing game

When we start talking about the best dual-threat running backs in the NFL right now, names like Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara immediately come to mind. Those are two backs that opponents have to scheme against just as diligently in the passing game as they do running the football.

Is second-year Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift creeping into that conversation as one of the top dual-threat backs in the league today?

Swift currently leads all NFL running backs in receptions (42) and receiving yards (391).

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, whose team comes to Detroit Sunday to take on Swift and the Lions, thinks Swift is quickly becoming part of that conversation.

"Anytime a guy is leading through (seven) games all those things you mentioned, we are well aware of where he is and where he's going to be," Sirianni said in a conference call Wednesday. "Anytime you have a good playmaker, like D'Andre Swift is, you have to be alert to where he is on the field. Same thought process when Kamara is out there or McCaffrey. We just see a guy who's making a play. The names you mentioned before (Kamara and McCaffrey) have done it longer, but we know what kind of playmaker Swift is."

Kamara was named the NFC Offensive Player for Week 7 after totaling 179 scrimmage yards (128 receiving, 51 rushing) and 10 receptions, including a touchdown catch, in New Orleans' Monday night win in Seattle.

Swift totaled 144 scrimmage yards in Detroit's loss to the Rams this week with 97 receiving yards (on eight receptions) and 48 rushing, also with a touchdown.

On the year, Kamara has 419 rushing yards, 241 receiving yards and five total touchdowns in six games, for a total of 660 scrimmage yards. That's 110 scrimmage yards per game.

Swift, who splits carries with Jamaal Williams in Detroit, has 262 rushing yards and 391 receiving yards, with five total touchdowns for a total of 653 scrimmage yards. That comes out to 93.3 scrimmage yards per game.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell saw first-hand how Kamara grew into the player he is today while coaching in New Orleans from 2016-20, and sees some similarities with Swift.

"I think he's got game-changing ability," Campbell said of Swift. "I do see similarities. They are similar in that regard that they can both somewhat take a game over. I think they have that ability, though they are different athletically."

Kamara has terrific strength and balance, and is highly intelligent, per Campbell. He says Swift is smart player as well, but his game is more about speed and explosion, though Swift's been known to run a defender over from time to time, too.

Detroit's record for receptions and receiving yards from the running back position in a single season is 80 catches and 697 yards, which Theo Riddick set in 2015.

Swift is on pace for 102 receptions and 950 receiving yards this season.

Only four running backs in NFL history have caught 100 passes in a season (McCaffrey - twice, Matt Forte, Larry Centers and LaDainian Tomlinson), though it should be noted Swift has an extra game to accomplish the feat with the league now playing 17 games.

Still, Swift is proving to be a huge threat as a receiver, and if he continues this pace, he's got a chance to be among some of the most prolific pass-catching running backs in NFL history.


Another week and another explosive young wide receiver for the Lions to contend with. Two weeks ago it was stud Bengals rookie Ja'Marr Chase. This week, it's the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and terrific rookie pass catcher for the Eagles, DeVonta Smith.

Smith is one of three rookies (Chase & Kyle Pitts) with 30-plus receptions and 400-plus receiving yards on the season. Smith's caught 32 balls for 406 yards with a score. He's a silky smooth route runner, and the Eagles love taking shots down the field to him.

Chase caught four passes for 97 yards against the Lions Week 6. Can Detroit limit Smith more than that on Sunday?


A key stat that jumps out when looking at the ranking comparisons between the Lions and Eagles are the red zone numbers. Detroit's defense has struggled to keep teams out of the end zone when they reach the red zone this season. Detroit's defense is last in the NFL, allowing a touchdown 84.2 percent of the time opponents reach inside their 20-yard line.

The Eagles are one of the better red-zone offenses in the league, which isn't a big surprise given the athleticism and versatility they have at the quarterback position with Jalen Hurts. Philadelphia converts a touchdown more than 70 percent of the time (70.8) they're in the red zone, which ranks sixth in the NFL.

Offensively, Detroit's coming off a performance in Los Angles last week where they were 0-for-5 in the red zone. On the year, Detroit's scoring a touchdown less than 50 percent of the time in the red zone (47.6).

But there could be opportunities for better success for Detroit's offense this week. The Eagles' defense ranks 28th in red-zone efficiency at 73.1 percent. Red-zone efficiency could play a key role in Sunday's outcome at Ford Field.

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