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Even if running back Rudi Johnson is 80 percent of his former self, the Detroit Lions improved themselves Monday by adding him to their backfield. (Presumably, he will replace Tatum Bell as the No. 2 back behind starter Kevin Smith, but the Lions don't have to make a corresponding roster move until Tuesday.)
Johnson hasn't played all preseason, so we're not completely sure how encumbered he is by a hamstring injury. But we do know his style is a good fit for a head coach who wants to shove it down opponents' throats this season. Coach Rod Marinelli has two of the best receivers in the game in Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson, but he believes it's critical to elevate his team's toughness through the running game.
Johnson is listed at 225 pounds but is probably closer to 235 or 240 these days. He will give the Lions a punishing style that, frankly, Bell lacked. He'll also serve as a strong role model for Smith, an impressionable rookie.
Players acquired on Labor Day always come with pros and cons, but in this case, Johnson's pros have made the Lions a better team.