With the issues surrounding Jahvid Best's health, questions about Mikel Leshoure, and an overall uneasy feeling when it comes to the running game, the Detroit Lions most definitely should shop around for a running back.
Earlier this year, the Lions were in talks with Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant. But those talks fell through. Grant would have been an adequate addition to the backfield. But the Lions weren't able to pull the trigger and execute a deal.
Kevin Smith, an oft-injured ball carrier, has the skill and potential to be a serviceable No. 1 back for the Lions if need be. However, I'm not completely sold on his stamina. He was a workhorse at Central Florida. A popular thought is that he burned out his motor before hitting the NFL. That's debatable. He's comparable to guys like Grant and Cedric Benson, but far less-proven.
Benson has rushed for over 1,000 yards the past three seasons -- and he looks like he's just getting started in terms of reaching his peak.
Detroit made do without a healthy Best or Leshoure last season. ESPN's Kevin Seifert points out that fact with an interesting stat:
Second, the Lions have the ultimate card in their back pocket. What did they do last season when Leshoure tore his Achilles and Best was ultimately lost to a concussion? They in essence became a college-style spread offense that led the NFL in passing attempts and set a league record, according to Football Outsiders' annual almanac, by using the shotgun on 68 percent of their offensive plays.
It might not be ideal, but the Lions' success in that scheme last season offers them the flexibility to give Leshoure and Best more time to get back onto the field before they start making plans to play without them.
Running back is a need at this point. But the Lions can afford to wait for better scenario rather than banking on Grant or Benson. However, Benson wouldn't be a terrible acquisition.
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