The 2011 Detroit Lions offense was pass-centric as QB Matthew Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards in his first season starting all 16 regular season games. The prolific passing game might not have been by design, but rather out of necessity as the Lions struggled all season in order to find a consistent running game. Injuries plagued the group the entire season and while the Lions finished the season with the fourth rated passing attack, Detroit finished 29th running the ball. No running back carried the ball more than 84 times and no back recorded more than 390 yards on the ground.
It was thought that the Lions might be in the market to add a veteran running back, but the team says they are happy with the current crop of backs. Jahvid Best has told reporters that he will be back on the field in 2012, but the question of his concussion history lingers. Mikel Leshoure hopes to play a role in the Lions offense in 2012 after missing the entire 2011 season with an injury but will have to wait until Week Three to play a role after being suspended for two games by the NFL. Veteran RB Kevin Smith returns but he too, has a lengthy injury history.
Behind the trio, the Lions have third-year running back Joique Bell and Keiland Williams. Bell, a Wayne State product and Harlon Hill Trophy winner has drifted around the league, attached to various team’s practice squads and has not really had any opportunity to showcase his talents on the field yet in his young career. Bell appears to be locked in a fight with Kevin Smith for the team’s third back while Leshoure serves his league imposed suspension.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters he has liked what he’s seen this offseason from both Bell and Williams saying, “the more I saw of Keiland Williams, Joique Bell, those guys have had a really good off-season.”
Fantasy implications- I have liked Bell since he joined the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. If Bell is able to unseat Kevin Smith as the team’s third back behind Best and Leshoure, keep an eye on him especially given Best’s injury propensity.