Jordan Howard has flown under the radar this offseason after a fantastic rookie campaign.
The Chicago Bears running back finished second to Ezekiel Elliott in rushing last season with 1,313 yards, despite not playing Week 1, not being promoted to the starting gig until Week 4, and earning 15 or fewer carries in six games — compared to just two such games for Elliott. Howard earned seven games with 100-plus rushing yards, the same number as Elliott. Howard’s 5.2 yards per carry was second-most for any running back with more than 135 totes — behind only LeSean McCoy.
Entering Year 2, Howard is out to prove his production last year wasn’t a fluke.
“I feel like some people might feel like I might have been just a one-year wonder,” he told Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s motivation to keep coming out here and working and improving my game.”
Howard possesses the size and patience to run between the tackles, and speed to hit the edge. The 22-year-old admitted he wants to improve his pass-catching game after snagging just 29 receptions for 298 yards as a rookie. If he can become a consistent threat through the air, the Bears have a potent three-down workhorse back.
One way Howard is preparing for a bigger workload as a rookie is shedding weight while maintaining strength. The tailback said he’d like to be 225 pounds after weighing in at 230 pounds at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine (for what it’s worth, the team’s official website lists him at 222 pounds).
“I don’t want to come off the field as much,” Howard said of making sure he’s in peak condition.
With question marks at quarterback and receiver, the Bears‘ offense will ride Howard hard this season, giving him plenty of chances to destroy any fabricated notion that he was a one-hit wonder.