LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- To say that former Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure's NFL career in Detroit got off to bumpy start would be an understatement. Not only did the Lions' second-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft miss his entire rookie year due to an Achilles injury, Leshoure was suspended for the first two games of this season after he got arrested twice in the span of a month in the offseason for marijuana possession.
But three games into Leshoure's NFL career, the Lions are finally starting to see a return on their investment.
Leshoure carried the ball 26 times for 100 yards and a touchdown in his debut against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 23, the first Detroit running back to reach the 100-yard rushing plateau in his first career game since Billy Sims did it back in 1980. Two weeks later Leshoure rushed for 70 yards on 15 attempts (4.7 avg.) in the Lions' 26-23 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
"He's a good tailback," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "He seems like a tough guy to take down. Runs hard. Gets his nose in there and can create some extra yards and has some good feet. He's a guy that can carry the load."
Carrying the load hasn't been much of an issue for Lions' tailbacks since Detroit has made a habit of trailing in the second half of games. Through five games the Lions have thrown the ball 231 times to just 128 rushing attempts.
But it would be foolish for the Bears to overlook Leshoure and the rest of the Lions' backfield, especially after Detroit surprised the Bears last year during their 24-13 win at Ford Field when Jahvid Best hit the Bears for several big gains on the ground, including an 88-yard touchdown run that basically put the game out of reach.
"We want to stop the run first," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "If you can make them one-dimensional, it's a lot better than them having us on our heels and guessing what they want to do."