Detroit Lions Training Camp Battle: Running Back—Leshoure, Best, Smith
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If a running back competition happens and nobody shows up, does it make a sound?
Actually, quite a bit of noise.
How do you quantify this battle?
Jahvid Best is out for the foreseeable future, though as I said Tuesday, everyone involved might want to think about shelving him much longer than that.
He’s not much of a factor for now, though, and who knows if he will be at all. When he’s healthy, Best is a dynamic, elusive ball-carrier. He’s just not healthy and has struggled to stay healthy in his time in the league so far.
Hopefully, he can become a factor again, but right now, he’s out of the competition.
Mikel Leshoure started off great—then pulled a hamstring. Given that he is coming off an Achilles injury, Leshoure might have a few conditioning related things crop up, and the hammy could be one of them.
They’ll be cautious with him, but I expect him to be 100 percent again soon. His power between the tackles and burst through the hole is going to be a nice compliment to Kevin Smith, the third back in this battle.
Smith has looked good in practices so far, and while he doesn’t have the speed of Best, he and Leshoure will trade carries pretty seamlessly.
Of course, the problem with Smith is his durability. Even last year, he was banged-up, and the more carries he gets, the more injury difficulties he has. He had a lot of carries in college, and it appears that the wear and tear catches up with him midseason.
For now, though, Leshoure and Smith form the core of this backfield—or will when Leshoure is no longer suspended.
Which is the pair we'll see most in the backfield?
Other players on the fringes—worth noting for the beginning of the season at least because of that suspension—are Stefan Logan, a wide receiver (who was a back in college) converting to running back, and Joique Bell.
Bell is a balanced runner who can catch the ball well from the backfield and shows plenty of patience waiting for blocks to set up. He’s never going to be considered fast, but he has the basic skills to become an every-down back.
Logan is a scatback—too small at 5’7”, 185 to ever carry the load, but fast with great vision and balance.
Don’t be surprised if down the road, we hear more from either one or both—Bell has already done well in camp, while Logan’s teammates love what he brings to the table.
Both of these guys will factor into this battle by the end of camp.
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