Detroit Lions: Breaking Down Mikel Leshoure's 1st Game
By any measure, the mere fact that Mikel Leshoure was up and running in an actual NFL game was a pretty big deal.
That he looked very good doing it has to have Lions fans feeling giddy.
While he still showed some rust, Leshoure also showed speed, some nice cuts and and no fear as he rammed into defenders on a few runs.
He's clearly not holding back to protect his Achilles injury.
A few runs really stood out to me on Sunday.
The first one, taking place in the first quarter, shows off that his ability to cut remains very potent.
Leshoure takes the handoff and sees very quickly there is nowhere to go straight forward. He immediately begins to cut to his left.
The worry for some was that Leshoure would be tentative with hard cuts (if he could do them at all) because of the Achilles injury.
As far as I could see here, it's not a concern.
Leshoure makes a sharp cut left and heads to the outside. If you look at the run, you do see the limitations of his speed—he can be quick, but he isn't outrunning defenders to the corner by much.
Still, he takes a good angle and finishes the run strong.
Leshoure doesn't have any problems running hard straight into defenders as well.
On this play, he gets the handoff and heads straight toward the hole. He gets through some traffic at the line of scrimmage quickly and then collides without hesitation into a defender.
As he hits the defender, he keeps his legs moving, pushing forward for every inch.
His speed to the hole was also clear on his touchdown run, a short one-yard burst into the end zone during the third quarter.
Watch this video of the play. Leshoure gets the handoff and is very fast into and through the hole his line creates for him.
Again, the Achilles injury seems to have no lingering effect.
Leshoure also showed good hands, route-running and ability to get yards after the catch when he was a receiver.
On this play, quarterback Matt Stafford fakes a handoff to Leshoure (blue-spot shadow, of course), who then runs out into the middle of the field.
Leshoure does a very good job on his short route of getting himself between the defender and his quarterback, giving Stafford the best chance to deliver a ball which only Leshoure can catch cleanly.
As he catches the ball, he turns upfield and is quickly met by the defender covering him. However, Leshoure makes a nifty little move on the defender (Zach Brown) and makes the first-down marker.
Many young backs will take that hit and go down. It was a second-down play, and they ate up most of what the offense needs to make for an easy third. Leshoure fights for that last three yards and gets the first down.
Of course, Leshoure had his bumps as well. He was stuffed a few times and occasionally looked very much like a guy who hadn't played in a real game in almost two years.
That said, he played very well and showed the Lions that he can be a big addition to this already potent offense.
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