LAKE FOREST — If Trestan Ebner gets a one-on-one opportunity with a defender in the open field, he has options for how he will approach the play.
“It really depends on my surroundings, you know, if there is a lot of people coming around me, I’m going to try to run em over,” Ebner said. “If I feel like I can make a move and gain more yards, then I’m definitely going to make somebody miss. I prefer doing that.”
The rookie running back may just get that opportunity because the Bears will be without one of their top offensive players for the next four games.
In the 31-30 loss to the Lions, Khalil Herbert suffered a hip injury on the final kick return of the game. The Bears placed Herbert on injured reserve two days later.
“Whenever you lose a player like that, it’s always hard,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said on Wednesday. “It’s hard to replace him. Khalil’s got a great style to him. You guys have seen the breakout runs, so it’s hard to replicate that. We’re just going to have to share the load with those guys. D-Mo’s (David Montgomery) stepping up and doing some different things. Certainly a talented back for sure.”
Herbert’s six yards per carry, which is tied for second among running backs with Dallas’ Tony Pollard, will be tough to replace. He also ranks 11th in the NFL in rushing yards (643) and second on the Bears behind Justin Fields.
But the team will have to move on and the next man up is the sixth-round draft pick. When Ebner found out that Herbert was injured, Herbert went up to the rookie and told him, “You’re up.”
Since Ebner was behind Herbert and David Montgomery, he hasn’t had many opportunities on offense. In 10 games, he has played 50 offensive snaps, carrying the ball 18 times for 46 yards and adding two receptions for eight yards.
Ebner has big shoes to fill, especially since the Bears are the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL with 2,017 yards (201.7 yards per game). Now, he will be asked to be a part of the trio with Fields and Montgomery to keep that momentum going.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, you know,” Ebner said. “You know, it’s a little nerve-racking cause you just want to get in and execute. You just know what the running game means to this offense, so I don’t want to let anybody down, any of my teammates down. I just like making my fellow running backs proud. I’m just trying to do my job the best I can.”
One way the Bears can look to acclimate Ebner into the offense is to give him some passes out of the backfield. At Baylor, Ebner averaged 12 yards per catch – the most of all running backs in the 2022 draft class.
“I think when I start catching some more passes out of the backfield, that will make me feel like, ‘alright, I’m here,’” Ebner said. “Cause I still have the same mindset that I had in college that no linebackers can guard me either, and most safeties can’t. That’s how I think. You know I think once I can showcase that side of my game, it will be great.”
Regardless of how Ebner is utilized in the game plan, he is just focused on being decisive in everything he is asked to do. He also knows his fellow running backs have confidence in him, and Ebner said that makes his job a lot easier – even though he is a little nervous about this opportunity.