Many questions surround Lions' ground game

Posted Jan. 21, 2012 @ 9:42 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

By earning a wild-card berth in 2011, the Lions put an end to an 11-year run without a playoff appearance. A shorter, but telling, current streak is their seven-year run without a 1,000-yard rusher. In fact, the Lions haven't had a back exceed 600 yards in either of the last two seasons. Injuries to Jahvid Best (concussion) and Mikel Leshoure (Achilles) forced the Lions to adjust at running back in 2011. Kevin Smith, signed in November, rushed for 356 yards and gained 4.9 yards per carry, but he's slated to be an unrestricted free agent, as is veteran Maurice Morris. Best expressed hope at season's end he would be ready to participate in offseason workouts, while Leshoure told The (Champaign, Ill.) News-Gazette on Jan. 7 that he was "on schedule, if not ahead of schedule" in his recovery. In an interview with 790 AM in Atlanta on Jan. 18, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said the absences of Best and Leshoure were no small losses to the offense. "Kevin Smith came in and performed well for us, but Jahvid Best, we feel, is a very special player," Mayhew said. "Mikel Leshoure, we think, showed he was a special player during training camp. Those guys would have upgraded our offense tremendously."