It's no secret that many people fear that the players who take the field in the Detroit Lions' backfield in September will not be the same players who take the field to finish the season.
With Jahvid Best's concussion issues and Mikel LeShoure's arrests (while recovering from his own injury no less), it's a real concern.
As I said in this video where I broke down the NFC North backfields, there is a ton of potential but also a ton of uncertainty.
I'm here to tell you, though, if they're both healthy this backfield will have a tremendous season.
The key to this will be LeShoure, not Best. As dynamic as Best is, he's not an every down back and isn't going to be a guy who wears defenses down—he's more the guy who exploits them when they already are worn down.
No, LeShoure will be the guy who leads this backfield out of the woods.
While Lions fans may know his name (especially given recent eating habits) you didn't really get much chance to see what he was capable of in 2011, so here's a fresh reminder of what he brings to the table.
LeShoure is a prototypical big back with a lot of power. He's a tough runner between the tackles and while he lacks elite speed and agility, he is quick and before his Achilles' injury, had fantastic burst.
With good blocking (the other X-factor in the run game), LeShoure can bust off some big gains but he's more likely going to do the heavy lifting by wearing down the defense for Best.
Last season, the Lions were looking to go into the season with a complementary backfield of Best and LeShoure: the Detroit version of Thunder and Lightning. LeShoure exhausts them and Best outruns them.
It all keys on LeShoure though. Did he lose some burst when he injured his Achilles? Probably, but there have been advances in dealing with that injury so the hope is he retains more than he lost.
Even with a little less explosion, LeShoure still serves as a very effective power back, able to knock defenders about and get the hard yards when needs, punishing players along the way.
A healthy LeShoure allows the Lions to run the ball more effectively, keep defenses on their toes (he can catch as well) and give the offense an added dimension it has really lacked the last few years: consistency.
Of the two backs, LeShoure is the one I trust to stay healthy. His injury was a freak event, while Best's concussions are a repeated and ongoing concern. The added bonus to having LeShoure in the backfield is keeping Best healthy—less carries mean less hits and hopefully less concussions.
While this will always be an offense centered on the pass, Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford, being able to run the ball effectively will ease some of the pressure on the air attack to do everything.
And again, as LeShoure wears the defense out, this helps Stafford and his receivers break free as well.
The ripple effect for the offense is going to be huge.
As I said earlier, this is a backfield with tremendous potential. They could be very, very good.
With LeShoure leading the way, they might even be great.
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