Lions Need To Work On Running Game Before Opener
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) – The Detroit Lions did a lot of good things in a 34-3 exhibition victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Running the ball wasn’t one of them.
Detroit picked up 70 yards on the ground Friday night – the same as Cincinnati – but that came on 33 carries as they tried to run out the clock in a lopsided game. The Lions averaged 2.1 yards a carry and only mustered three first downs on the ground.
“I thought it was a good start, considering everything going on,” said Detroit’s featured back, Jahvid Best, who gained 12 yards on four carries in limited action.
The problems – for every NFL team, not just the Lions – mainly stem from the lockout.
“We only came into camp a couple weeks ago, and the first couple days were nothing more than walkthroughs, and we were still missing more than 20 players,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “Usually, we’ll have been working with these guys all summer, so we can jump into things right away. That wasn’t how things worked this year.”
Instead, the Lions have only had a couple practices in full pads with the entire roster.
“I think the passing games are a little ahead of the running games on both sides of the ball right now, because we just haven’t had the chance to work on things while padded up,” Schwartz said. “That’s the only way you can really get that stuff done.”
Another huge factor was rookie power back Mikel Leshoure’s season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury. The Lions brought in veterans Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell – neither had time to learn the playbook – and they combined for 13 yards on 11 carries.
“All we were able to do is give them a few basic plays,” Schwartz said. “It will help a lot as they get more deeply into our playbook.”
With two-a-day workouts also a thing of the past, Schwartz will have to hustle to get things ready by the Sept. 11 opener in Tampa.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time to get it done.”
NOTES: WR Calvin Johnson (shoulder) and QB Drew Stanton both missed Sunday’s practice with minor injuries. Stanton needed two stitches in a cut on his elbow and will get a couple days off to avoid infection. … TE Brandon Pettigrew returned to action after missing practice last week and the Cincinnati game with an ankle injury. Schwartz specifically pointed Pettigrew out for having a strong practice on Sunday. … The Lions officially placed Leshoure on injured reserve and released OL Tony Ugoh, who is considering retirement. They added CB Anthony Madison, who played last season for Pittsburgh.
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