Bears Sign Ex-Steelers DB After Placing Playmaker on IR

Justin Layne

Getty Justin Layne has been claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears are losing one of their top players on offense, as they’re placing running back Khalil Herbert on the injured reserve list with a hip injury, according to the NFL’s November 15 waiver wire.

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus was mum when asked about Herbert’s injury on Monday, November 14, so it was no surprise when the team placed him on IR a day later. The Bears also claimed former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants defensive back Justin Layne off waivers.

Layne appeared and eight games for the Giants this season, playing 47% of the team’s special teams snaps. He played 11 snaps on defense in New York’s Week 5 win over the Green Bay Packers, finishing with three tackles and a pass breakup in the game.

In an additional roster move, the Bears waived defensive end Kingsley Jonathan.

Losing Khalil Herbert Will Be Big Blow for Bears Offense

Herbert will be out at least four weeks, maybe longer, and his loss will be a significant one for Chicago. The Bears currently have the NFL’s best rushing attack, averaging over 201 yards on the ground per game. Herbert has been a big part of that.

The second-year running back has 644 yards and four rushing scores on 104 carries so far this season. He is currently ranked third in the NFL in yards per carry (6.0), and he’s in the top 10 in rushing yards. He has also forced 26 missed tackles (stats courtesy of PFF).

Herbert has 19 runs of 10 or more yards this season, and he has been one of the most dynamic players on Chicago’s roster. It will be difficult to fill his shoes, and the next man up for the Bears is sixth-round rookie Trestan Ebner. David Montgomery, who has 434 yards and two scores on 115 carries this season, will get the bulk of the team’s carries, of course, but expect Ebner to get an opportunity to showcase what he can do.

A a sixth-round pick for the Bears out of Baylor, Ebner has 18 carries for 46 yards (2.6 yards per carry) this season. Over the preseason, he had 15 carries for 60 yards to go with a receiving touchdown.

Justin Layne: Background & Stats

Here’s what NFL draft expert Lance Zierlein had to say about Layne heading into the 2019 draft: “He’s not a burner, but he uses his size ball skills to make plays on the football down the field. Layne’s traits could make him a fit in a variety of coverages, but he needs consistent toughness to help support against the run.”

A third-round pick out of Michigan State for the Steelers in 2019 (83rd overall), Layne appeared and 43 games for the Steelers during the 2019-2021 seasons, contributing primarily on special teams. He finished with 45 total tackles and a fumble recovery in that span.

The Steelers waived him prior to the 2022 regular season, and the Giants claimed him before releasing him on November 14. The Cleveland, Ohio native attended Benedictine High School, where he played wide receiver and cornerback. He transitioned to full-time corner as a freshman with the Spartans.

In 34 games at Michigan State, Layne accumulated 130 total tackles (79 solo, 4.5 for loss), a forced fumble, three interceptions and 27 pass breakups.

His role in Chicago should be on special teams, although he could also get an opportunity in a banged-up Bears secondary, particularly if Jaylon Johnson misses time.

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