Monday, August 6, 2012
Makes sense for Lions to wait at RB
By Kevin Seifert
The questions mount for every training camp practice the Detroit Lions conduct without Jahvid Best (concussion) and Mikel Leshoure (hamstring): Will the team sign a veteran free agent? Here's how ESPN's John Clayton tackled the issue in his Monday notebook:
Q: Why haven't the Lions brought in Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant? Although they know how Mikel Leshoure practices, they don't know how he'll do after his Achilles injury or against other defenses in real game situations. Jahvid Best might not come back this year and they have to face that fact. (Gary in Dallas)
A: I believe they think Kevin Smith is every bit as good as Benson or Grant for their offense, but the longer the Best concussion issues linger, the more signing one of the two might become a consideration. Best remains out and no one knows if or when he will be active. Leshoure is suspended the first two games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. It's pretty clear the Lions are waiting for Best to get healthy so he can be the backup. They aren't panicking yet.
The issue became somewhat more of a numbers game Monday when rookie running back Stephon Green departed practice with a knee injury. That left the Lions with four healthy tailbacks on their roster: Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams, Joique Bell and Stefan Logan.
While the Lions might need an extra body for camp purposes, I wouldn't be opposed to patience in this situation. First, there is always a reason why a player is available midway through training camp. Salvation rarely follows an early August signing.
Second, the Lions have the ultimate card in their back pocket. What did they do last season when Leshoure tore his Achilles and Best was ultimately lost to a concussion? They in essence became a college-style spread offense that led the NFL in passing attempts and set a league record, according to Football Outsiders' annual almanac, by using the shotgun on 68 percent of their offensive plays.
It might not be ideal, but the Lions' success in that scheme last season offers them the flexibility to give Leshoure and Best more time to get back onto the field before they start making plans to play without them.