It’s too easy to see as a red flag, but the Lions can and should manage D’Andre Swift’s workload during training camp.
Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage last year, despite missing essentially five games and seeing limited work in the two he came back for to end the season. He also missed three games as a rookie in 2020.
It goes against the grain of the Dan Campbell regime for the Lions not to push players at every possible turn. But Swift missed most of training camp last year with a groin injury, and he landed on the injury report with the issue during the weeks that followed–a fair amount into the regular season. But he didn’t miss any games until he suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder on Thanksgiving Day, which makes the challenge to Swift from running backs coach Duce Staley a little bit of a reach.
That said, making sure Swift is fully healthy going into the season is a top priority for the Lions as training camp rolls on.
The Lions are right to manage D’Andre Swift’s training camp workload
Via SI.com, during his Friday morning press conference, Campbell expressed some regret about Swift’s usage in Week 1 last year after he was unable to ramp up in camp. Swift had 19 touches (104 total yards) and played 63 snaps in last year’s opener against San Francisco.
"We never really got to put a load on him and get him ready for the season,” Campbell said. “We get him ready for San Fran, and he takes quite a bit of reps. We didn’t want to do that but it just kind of happened that way. We throw him a screen, he takes it to the house. You’re just trying to win a game."
Via Ben Raven of MLive, Campbell passed along the camp plan for Swift.
"So, we’ve got our — we have our eye on him on just — we’ve got to be smart with him. This first week, the reps are so much lighter that we weren’t really going to worry about it right now. But as we start next week (with pads), there’ll be things that we do with him…So, there could be a little bit of, we ramp him up for a couple days, back him off on the third day, but we are — we’re going to be smart with him. Try to be, but yet still get him.”"
During training camp and preseason games, it’s fairly routine for key players to have their workload managed in practice and play little (or not at all in some cases) in games that are ultimately meaningless.
Expecting the worst is generally ingrained in the mindset of Lions’ fans. So some will automatically see Swift having his camp workload managed as a red flag and cause for concern.
But it’s just the smart way to manage a talented player’s health, with an eye on Swift getting the work he needs to get in in and not pushing it too much beyond that. As a tentacle, he probably won’t play a lot in preseason games.
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