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Notes: NFC North ranks 2nd best division in running back talent

The division boasts some the leagues best backs.

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Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

In a recent CBS Sports ranking, the NFC North won the second-highest spot when it comes to running back talent.

Writer Jordan Dajani ranked each NFL division by the quality of their backs. The NFC North came in second place, surpassed only by the AFC North. The Detroit Lions, of course, feature D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, the Chicago Bears boast David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, the Minnesota Vikings have star RB Dalvin Cook, and the Green Bay Packers have powerhouse duo Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

“The talent in this division is undeniable. Montgomery is a legitimate RB1, Herbert shined when called upon, Swift went for over 1,000 scrimmage yards in 2021, Jones and Dillon both went for over 1,000 scrimmage yards as well and then Cook was a Pro Bowler for the third straight season,” he explains.

For this, I’m going to focus more on Swift, as things are tricky amid issues staying healthy. Entering his third year, he’s due for a successful season behind one of the best offensive units in the league. Injuries have been an issue—of 33 possible games, he’s played in 26. Not ideal but the dual-threat back rushed for 1,138 yards and 13 touchdowns and amassed 809 receiving yards and four touchdowns in those 26 games. It’s really his receiving abilities that help him stand out.

Back to those injuries—they have been frequent, including a concussion his rookie season that kept him off the field for three weeks, a groin injury during preseason his sophomore campaign as well a shoulder injury on Thanksgiving that limited him to two games. A few weeks ago The Athletic’s Chris Burke offers a quote from Lions assistant head coach Duce Staley on the difficulties Swift faces.

“Just staying healthy will definitely be the challenge,” Staley said. “And, you know, injuries happen. One of the things Swift and I had a conversation about is, you’ve got to be able to play through some of these as a running back. We all know there’s a difference between being injured and hurt.”

At this point it’s workout video season (where players on their “breaks” post videos of themselves working out), and lately Swift’s been training with the likes of Ja’Marr Chase, Jalen Mills, and Leonard Fournette.

Many of the articles circulating the internets these days are debating whether 2022 is a make-it-or-break-it year for Swift. He’s reportedly bulked up to help avoid some of those nagging injuries from the past. Let’s hope he leans toward the make it end of the teeter-totter this season.

And onto the rest of your notes.

  • Also from CBS Sports’ — Cody Benjamin ranked the NFL divisions by the star power of their quarterbacks. Where does the NFC North rank? Actually pretty high.

  • Michael Brockers hosted a football and cheerleading camp this weekend:

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  • It’s the slowest part of the year so here are some broadcasting updates. Robert Griffin III is set to replace Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown.