Detroit Lions 2014 Preview: Don’t Give Up On Mikel Leshoure

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(Tim Fuller- USA Today Sports)

(Tim Fuller- USA Today Sports)

The Detroit Lions had a bright spot with Mikel Leshoure during the 2012 season. After recovering from an injury his rookie season, Leshoure played in 14 games, rushing for 798 yards, averaging nearly four yards per carry.

In 2013, Leshoure’s career hit a huge bump. The tailback played in just three games, receiving two touches. Former coach Jim Schwartz and his staff seemed to lack confidence in the tailback, refusing to give him any snaps. Leshoure was a wasting roster spot, begging to be traded somewhere so that his feet could touch the turf more often.

The signing of Reggie bush and the emergence of Joique Bell furthered Leshoure’s falling into a pit of practically zero playing time. Don’t mistake it, Bush and Bell earned their rolls. However, Leshoure’s a talented and physical back. It wouldn’t hurt to have given him more snaps. For whatever reason, he wasn’t clicking with the former coaching staff.

Detroit can’t give up on him. This was the same tailback that averaged nearly four yards per carry in 2012 before the Lions revamped their offensive line. He’s a physical, mauling back. He pounds the football for hard yardage. Leshoure isn’t the fastest man on the field, but he’s agile, making defenders slip in open space. He has some nice blocking skills.

It would’ve been interesting to see what the big back would’ve done had he been given a more fair chance with this newer and younger offensive line. He would have continued to blossom into a powerful back that could bulldoze defenders for tough yardage. Tailbacks like Leshoure are great compliments; they wear down opposing defenses and eat clock time.

New coach Jim Caldwell wants a running attack for the Lions’ offense. Bush and Bell could use a third back to compliment them. Bush isn’t an every-down back; he needs to stay fresh. Bell will get worn out without someone carrying some of the load. Detroit can’t be too sure what Theo Riddick is; Leshoure is more proven. He isn’t a talentless back; he could grow under the guidance of Caldwell and this more dominant offensive line. A new coaching staff is the remedy that can cure one’s confidence; Leshoure has a chance to prove himself even more now.

Anyone who watched the 2012 season and saw Leshoure in action can see a back that can be a huge asset when running with confidence. Calling it quits on the 23-year old back would be a huge mistake; he has a lot of game left in him. The Lions will see a huge difference in their offense if Leshoure returns to form. Bush will be kept fresher, allowing him to receive more opportunities for passing plays, Bell will not get punished, and the offense will have a more threatening running-game.

Leshoure lost some confidence with the old coaching staff. That’s passed now; he can birth a fresh start and torment defenses with his big physique. The Lions can even save a draft pick instead of drafting a tailback in the later rounds. Leshoure will return to old form with this new staff if given a chance; the Lions will have an even better ground-game.

Should the Lions keep Leshoure or let him walk?

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  • bobdd

    bell was not all that great on 3rd and 1 situations in 2012. I can’t help but thing LeShoure would have done better. Both are sub 4yd/carry backs and Bell is a bit overrated. I get it about Bell not going down after the first hit, he’s real good at that but good teams manage to make him pay them back by causing him to fumble when he fights for yardage.

    • Jamal Cadoura

      Bob, good point! I thought the same thing last season. I wondered why Leshoure didn’t at least get attempts on third-and-shorts. I’m with you on the Bell thing about him being slightly overrated. He’s good, but nothing too spectacular. I think if Leshoure returns to form, he’ll be much better than Bell.