How the Lions Can Generate a Rushing Attack Without Jahvid Best

J.P. ScottSenior Analyst IAugust 8, 2012

Sep 18, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best (44) rushes against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

Every team has questions heading into the 2012 season.

Arguably no other NFL team, however, has the kind of questions the Detroit Lions have in their backfield.

Jahvid Best's ongoing concussion concerns have him out indefinitely, while Mikel Leshoure will serve a two-game suspension during Week 1 and 2.

Surviving the early part of the season will mean generating a rushing attack by committee. 

Facing the prospect of being without their top two backs for at least the first two weeks of the season, the Lions will have rely on an old friend to get them out of a jam (again).

All signs point to Kevin Smith, the man who one year ago wasn't even in the NFL, starting the season as the Lions' No. 1 option at running back.

The Week 1 game against the up-and-coming St. Louis Rams should be a little easier to deal with than the matchup with San Francisco in Week 2.

The Lions would be best suited in both games to field Smith as a first- and second-down back while spelling him on third-down situations with either Joique Bell or Keiland Williams. 

All three are roughly the same size, but given his experience and dependability in the past, the Lions will want Smith to be the primary ball-carrier while keeping him out of the way of would-be big hits on passing downs.

Given the more physical nature of the 49ers defense, it may be wise to give Smith a series or two off during each half in order to keep him fresh should Detroit need him to milk the clock at the end.

Ideally, Detroit wins both games. Should they go 1-1 as many might expect, they'll still be in decent position early in the season when Leshoure returns. 

If anything, the situation could end up benefiting the Lions by giving valuable carries and regular season game experience to players who otherwise would not see much of the field. 

If Smith, Bell and Williams are able to put up solid numbers, it would go a long way in keeping Leshoure fresh throughout a long season, as Detroit could rest him with confidence.

On the down side of all of this, if Best cannot return in time to be of any value to the Lions, depending on the production of the rest of the depth chart, Detroit may deem him expendable and look to move on without him.