- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When Mikel Leshoure arrived at Ford Field for the season opener Sunday, he had planned on playing.
When he walked in the locker room, he found out he would not be playing. As one of the team's inactives, the running back, who was Detroit's second-round pick in 2011, was reduced to cheering for the guys he practices with every day.
Going into the week, he had an inkling this could happen.
“Just by practice and things like that, I wasn’t really sure, but it wasn’t 100 percent,” Leshoure said. “I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but I didn’t know until the day of.”
He had been competing for one of the backup running back jobs during training camp, but eventually lost out to Joique Bell, who had two touchdowns against Minnesota on Sunday.
Leshoure, a former Illinois running back, was Detroit’s leading rusher last season, gaining 798 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. Now, he is just trying to return to active playing status.
He said he hasn’t talked too much about it with the coaching staff. He did say, though, he spoke with former Detroit running back Kevin Smith, who went through similar struggles a season ago after being the team’s second-leading rusher in 2011, about it over Instagram recently.
Leshoure said the message from Smith was simple: Be professional. Stay upbeat.
“Got to, man. You can’t be moping around. You can’t be crying,” Leshoure said. “One thing that hasn’t changed is my confidence in myself and the things that I feel I can do to help this team. That hasn’t changed and it won’t change.
“So for me to be just pouting about not being on the field, that’s just, that’s stupid. It’s going to hurt the team and I don’t want to be a bug or a virus in this locker room. And I’m not going to be.”