Former Lions running back D'Andre Swift offered familiar flash of his peak level Thursday night

D'Andre Swift rarely put it all together as a Detroit Lion, and the Philadelphia Eagles got a taste of it Thursday night.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions had grown tired of trying to manage D'Andre Swift's workload, as he battled multiple injuries. Head coach Dan Campbell said so at the NFL Combine in March.

"We tried to do that last year. We tried to take care of him in camp….We thought we had a recipe going into the year, and it didn’t work out,…We’re going to start all over from scratch again. Let’s find another way to see if we can help him stay on the field, you know? I already know he’s doing that for himself, so we’ve got to do that on our end. What can we do better by him? Can we? Because he’s too talented. He’s too talented to not have out there. He’s an explosive athlete.”""

Dan Campbell

Since Swift was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on Day 3 of the draft, a popular national narrative has been how the Lions misused him and will miss him. But they could not rely on him, and his instincts as a runner were noticeably lacking.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman admitted he was teased by Swift's performance against them in Week 1 last season. Swift had 15 carries for a career-high 144 yards and a touchdown in that game, with three catches for 31 yards. Of course he emerged from that game banged up, and only had two more double-digit carry games all season (14 total games, since he naturally missed a few).

Lions fans should not fear peak level D'Andre Swift becoming a thing

On Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings, with Kenneth Gainwell (ribs) out, Rashaad Penny not a thing and Boston Scott being diagnosed with a concussion during the game, Swift operated as the Eagles' clear lead back and the Vikings' defense had no answer for him. Any fear Lions' fans have about Swift realizing his potential now that he's gone came to full bloom.

Swift finished the game with 28 carries for a career-high 175 yards and a touchdown. That carry total was the second-highest of his career, and the second time in his career he has had more than 20 carries in a game, behind his 33 carries (for 130 yards) for the Lions against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10 of the 2021 season.

Gainwell was out, on a short week after being the Eagles' lead back in Week 1. Penny was a healthy scratch in Week 1, he barely played Thursday night and he also committed a penalty that negated a touchdown that could have put the game away before it got tight later. And Scott suffered a head injury during the game.

The stars fully aligned for Swift to have a big game against the Vikings. He'll have games like this once in awhile this season, just like he did over three seasons as a Lion. But if we know anything, it's that the peak version of Swift is a fleeting sight. He just happened to do it in a standalone prime time game this time.

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