A hip injury will sideline Herbert, who has played a major role in Chicago’s backfield in his second pro season. He must miss at least four games. The Bears also added cornerback Justin Layne via waiver claim. The Giants waived Layne on Monday. Matt Eberflus does not view Herbert’s injury has season-ending, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley (on Twitter). The earliest Herbert can return is Week 15.
Chosen in last year’s sixth round, Herbert has already smashed his rookie-year rushing total. Despite not taking as many handoffs as starter David Montgomery, the elusive backup has 643 rushing yards — at an eye-catching six yards per carry. Montgomery, who has totaled 115 carries to Herbert’s 108, has amassed just 434 yards. The Bears will need to lean on their starter more, though having a quarterback amid one of the all-time great QB rushing seasons will help. Justin Fields leads the Bears with 749 rushing yards.
Among non-quarterbacks, Herbert’s 6.0 yards per carry ties Tony Pollard atop the NFL. Being on pace for more than 1,000 yards despite not starting, the Kansas and Virginia Tech product has displayed the potential to be a long-term Fields complementary piece.
Though buoyed largely by Fields’ recent run-game dominance, the Bears’ near-400-yard lead on the rest of the NFL in rushing (201.7 yards per game) has also featured extensive Herbert contributions. The second-year back’s emergence likely will factor into how the Bears proceed with Montgomery, who is one of many starter-caliber backs set to hit free agency in March. No known Montgomery extension talks have taken place.
Layne has continued to generate interest, despite not seeing much time at cornerback. The Steelers drafted Layne in Round 3 in 2019; he has played 156 career defensive snaps. The Giants claimed him following cutdown day in August but used him on just 11 defensive snaps during his half-season New York stay. But the Michigan State alum has been a special teams regular throughout his career. Layne would stand to impact the Bears on this front. His rookie contract expires at season’s end.