Tiki Barber: Can Barber Replace Injured Detroit Lions RB Mike Leshoure for 2011?

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Tiki Barber: Can Barber Replace Injured Detroit Lions RB Mike Leshoure for 2011?
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Tiki Barber, who retired during the prime of his career after the 2006 NFL season, is looking to make a comeback.

Mikel Leshoure, drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, has torn his Achilles tendon and will be out for the entire season.

The question must be asked. Can Barber replace Leshoure in Detroit for the 2011 season?

Apparently, it's a rumor. Via NFL Draft Bible:

Free agent RB Ricky Williams has to be on Lions radar after bad break for LeShoure. Maybe they kick the tires on Tiki. Help will be needed.

With Ricky Williams signing with the Baltimore Ravens, this rumor will only continue to gain traction.

Before No. 21 retired, he was considered one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL. He ran for over 1,500 yards in each of his last three seasons, while catching more than 50 balls a year. Extend that window to five years, and Barber has five consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, five consecutive 50-plus catch seasons and a total of 45 touchdowns.

He was the real deal.

But can he come back from this five-year hiatus and remain effective?

I absolutely, 100 percent believe he can. Barber has always been an extremely hard worker (just look at his twin brother, Ronde, as proof that he can still contribute at such an old age), and the workload in Detroit will be smaller than people realize.

Jahvid Best, through injuries last season, remained in the starting lineup for all 16 weeks. That means that assuming Best stays even remotely healthy, Barber will be counted on exclusively as a backup.

Another thing that people underestimate is his ability to come out of the backfield.

Barber could certainly be a third-down only back, that change of pace back who runs draws and screens.

With Leshoure, the Lions had a running back that many considered to be a potential steal in the second round. He was showing very good signs of progress in camp before his unfortunate injury. But let's not get carried away—Leshoure was only expected to be a backup.

Unless Barber is in terrible shape, there is no reason to think that his talent and his leadership could not fill the hole left by Leshoure's injury.

Tiki Barber may not have the same explosion that he had in 2006, but Mikel Leshoure never had that kind of explosion either. Don't count Tiki out.

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