Lions vs. Titans: Mikel Leshoure and Players to Watch in Sunday's Game
On paper, the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions have the potential to field explosive offenses. After two weeks of play, neither team has necessarily lived up to expectations.
For 1-1 Detroit, they haven't received magnificent play from franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford just yet and were forced to deal with a stingy San Francisco 49ers defense in Week 2.
The 0-2 Titans, to most, have been the most abysmal team in the NFL heading into Week 3.
As a team, they've accumulated 58 rushing yards in two games and have done so at a ridiculously pedestrian 2.2 yards per carry.
Jake Locker has struggled, and the defense has allowed an average of 155 yards on the ground and 32.5 points per outing.
Let's take a look at the most intriguing players to monitor in the Lions-Titans Week 3 showdown in Nashville.
Mikel Leshoure, RB
Leshoure is coming off suspension, and should be the feature back for Detroit on Sunday. After spending 2011 on injured reserve, the former second-round pick is fully healed and should be able to give a much-needed boost to the Lions' run efforts.
Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Jesse Reed pointed out a telling statistic regarding the Lions in a recent fantasy profile of Leshoure: "Since the beginning of the 2010 NFL season, the Lions have thrown 1,379 passes compared to just 804 rushing attempts—only rushing the ball on 37 percent of their snaps."
Detroit's coaching staff is hoping the 6'0'', 227-pounder is the guy who'll give them a reason to be more balanced on offense.
Against what looks to be a porous Tennessee run defense, expect Leshoure to get ample opportunity to prove he can be a workhorse runner.
Titus Young, WR
Every opponent of the Lions game-plans around Calvin Johnson. He deservedly faces some variation of a double-team on every play. So far in the 2012 season, Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew have been the biggest beneficiaries of the increased attention given to Megatron.
They have combined for 15 catches and a touchdown.
Look for second-year pro Titus Young to get more involved this afternoon. Remember, he had 50 grabs and 632 yards last year.
He's a slippery slot option but has only reeled in two passes this season. With Jason McCourty and Co. looking to limit Johnson's production, Young could be crucial to the Lions' offensive attack.
Jared Cook, TE
Cook is so athletically gifted, it's a surprise he hasn't become a household name. At 6'5'' and 250 pounds, he runs like a wide receiver and has strong hands.
Last year, he was a sporadic contributor who caught fire late in the year, catching 21 passes in his last three games. Due to his encouraging end to the 2011 campaign, many believed this was when the South Carolina alum would break out.
He's registered seven catches for 87 yards in Tennessee's two blowout losses, but has to be a more integral facet of the team's offense.
Steady tight ends can often be the best friends of a young quarterback, so it'll be interesting to see if Locker looks Cooks' way more frequently today against a Detroit secondary that was torn apart by the ultra-efficient Alex Smith last week.
Kamerion Wimbley, DE
Wimbley was the Titans prized free-agent acquisition this season, and he's one of the more underrated pass-rushers in football.
He totaled 16 sacks over the last two years with the Oakland Raiders and had a sack against the New England Patriots in Week 1.
If he can consistently beat Jeff Backus around the edge, Stafford could be in for another relatively poor outing.
If the 6'4'', 255-pound Wimbley is held in check by the Detroit offensive lineman, the Lions quarterback should have ample time to throw the football downfield to his host of pass-catching options.
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