Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure is set to make his NFL regular-season debut this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
Finally healthy and unsuspended, Leshoure “will be heavily involved” in the game according to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Leshoure’s exact impact is still unknown, but Lions fans have been awaiting this moment ever since Detroit drafted him in the second round two years ago.
Leshoure was suspended two games this offseason for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. His suspension served, Leshoure is ready to take the field with a chip on his shoulder.
After tearing his Achilles and missing all of last season, then being suspended because of two marijuana-related arrests this offseason, Leshoure has something to prove to Lions fans.
The 6-foot, 227-pound back from Illinois probably will not start on Sunday in Nashville, but don’t be surprised if Linehan and the Lions feed him the ball if he proves effective. Leshoure toted the ball 15 times in his most recent action, Detroit’s preseason game against Buffalo. Leshoure totaled 43 yards and a touchdown in the contest.
The facts are in, and the Lions have failed to run the ball so far this season. Detroit has rushed for only 165 yards on 44 carries, which comes to 3.8 yards per carry. Linehan believes Leshoure will give the rushing attack a “shot in the arm,” something Detroit has needed ever since this guy named Barry retired over ten years ago.
The Lions have not had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2004, when Kevin Jones ran for 1,133 yards. Every other NFL team has had at least one 1,000+ yard rusher in that span, and Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams has done it seven times.
While Leshoure may not be the 1,000-yard guy Detroit is hoping for, at this point, Lions fans will take anything. Kevin Smith has done a decent job, but he lacks the elusiveness and power that Leshoure showed glimpses of this preseason.
With a running game that is a threat to gain more than three yards at a time, safeties start moving up. When safeties move up, Calvin Johnson has field days.
When Calvin Johnson has field days, the Lions win.
With the defensive unit playing relatively well, the ball is now in the offense’s court. Considered to be one of the highest powered attacks in the NFL, Detroit’s offense has looked shaky in the team’s first two contests.
Mikel Leshoure may be the answer to the Lions’ offensive woes.
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