Bears RB Jordan Howard eyes NFL rushing lead against woeful Lions D
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Bears running back Jordan Howard might become the NFL’s leading rusher Saturday — at least for a few hours.
Howard sits in fourth place in the NFL with 1,032 yards, 73 behind leader Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers. The Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt, whose game starts minutes after the Bears’ game ends Saturday, is second with 1,046 yards.
Howard is playing the right team for him to make a move. The Lions have allowed more than 100 rushing yards to each of the last six teams they have faced.
‘‘You definitely make note of that, but each game is different,’’ said Howard, who finished second in the league in rushing as a rookie last season.
Howard happily would take a rerun of his previous three games against the Lions, in which he has averaged 107 rushing yards — on 6.3 yards per carry — and 15 receiving yards.
His 147 yards Sunday against the Bengals were his most in a non-overtime game this season and his fifth triple-digit total of 2017. He didn’t follow any of the previous four with another 100-yard game, though.
‘‘I know [Howard’s] numbers are getting up there; he’s at the top of the league,’’ offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. ‘‘I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d be willing to bet that most teams don’t have a backup like Tarik Cohen, so it takes away some of Jordan’s yards that way. He’s done a really good job this year.’’
Against the Bengals, Howard was able to do what he does best — wear down defenders during the course of the game. He averaged 5.7 yards in the first half and seven in the second. That’s a credit to his endurance.
‘‘My line does a great job of getting me to the [linebackers], and I can pound the defenders,’’ Howard said. ‘‘By the fourth quarter, they don’t want to tackle me anymore; they just want to grab.’’
The Bears will lean on Mitch Trubisky against a defense that has struggled against quarterback keepers. He ran for 53 yards in his first game against the Lions. Those read-option looks — in which Trubisky can keep the ball or hand off — only will help Howard.
‘‘Just a different look for the defenses,’’ Howard said. ‘‘Makes the ends keep playing their lanes and play contain and things like that.’’
Howard might be the Bears’ most likely candidate to make the Pro Bowl when the NFL announces the rosters next week. He was selected to the Pro Bowl last season, too.
‘‘[It would be] a big honor because not many people get to go to the Pro Bowl,’’ he said.
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