What's the Blueprint for Detroit Lions Ground Game Without Jahvid Best?

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IAugust 28, 2012

The Lions placed Best on the PUP list Monday.
The Lions placed Best on the PUP list Monday.Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The Detroit Lions are beginning to plan for life without running back Jahvid Best

Following the decision to put Best on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list Monday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that GM Martin Mayhew has been calling around the league in search of another running back. 

Apparently, the free-agent heap of running backs is not satisfying enough for Mayhew's taste. With former Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant topping the list, it's hard to blame him. 

No trade targets were officially mentioned, but one could assume the Lions are currently targeting a cheap option on the open market instead of a big name like disgruntled Jacksonville Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew.  

Given all the injury issues Detroit has at the running back position right now, it's fairly easy to see why Mayhew would be diving into trade talks head first. His backfield is filled to the brim with backs carrying injury-laden pasts. 

Best has suffered four documented concussions over the last three years, with his last coming in October of last year. He has yet to gain clearance on a return to the practice field. Once he does come back—his return date would come in October at the earliest—it's possible one more hit on the head could end Best's career. 

Best will miss at least the first six games of the regular season after the PUP list designation. 

Backup Kevin Smith hasn't played in 16 games since his rookie season of 2008. He left the Lions' third preseason game with an ankle injury and could be questionable for the regular-season opener. 

A season ago, Smith battled through a high ankle sprain that lingered late into the season. His injury Saturday night is not believed to be another high sprain.

Mikel Leshoure, a second-round pick in 2011, missed all of last season with a torn Achilles and faces a two-game suspension to start 2012. He also missed practices this preseason while dealing with injury.

Mayhew's blueprint for fixing his backfield situation obviously includes adding another body and crossing his fingers one of two of the other options stay healthy during the regular season. 

Considering the Lions threw the ball at a higher rate than any other offense in football last season, just having a couple of healthy bodies available every week should be enough to keep everything afloat. 

The Lions mostly went down that road last season, with no running back carrying the football more than 90 times. Best received 84 carries before missing the rest of the season, Smith got 72 carries in seven games, Maurice Morris got 80 and Keiland Williams 58. 

Detroit was the only team in football last season without a ball-carrier getting 100 or more rushes. Injuries played a big role in that happening. 

Despite a featured runner, the Lions still finished fifth in total yards and fourth in scoring a season ago. 

If Mayhew can get another back onto the Lions' roster via trade, he should have more than enough to weather the storm until Best gains clearance. This is a passing football team that only needs the run to augment what it does through the air.