ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Mikel Leshoure knows that the Oakland Raiders are going to hit him hard Saturday night.
He can’t wait.
Sixteen months after being drafted by the Detroit Lions and almost two years after his last game, Leshoure is expected to take the field for the first time as a pro in Oakland. He missed his entire rookie season with the Lions after tearing his left Achilles tendon during training camp.
“I’m excited, because it has been a long time, but I also know I have to stay focused,” he said Thursday. “The pace of the game is going to be the biggest challenge, so I’ve got to be ready for that. It’s been awhile since I’ve played at game pace, and I’ve never done it at this level.”
With Jahvid Best (concussion) expected to miss the start of the regular season, the Lions need Leshoure to step up and take some pressure off Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Detroit’s high-energy passing attack.
“I’m really excited for him,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “It’s been a long road to get on the field. We’ll see how much he plays and how much work he gets, but I think everybody’s excited for him — nobody more than him.”
Leshoure has been slowed by a hamstring problem in camp and missed the first two exhibition games, so the running game has consisted of Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Joique Bell.
“I feel great right now,” Leshoure said. “I’m not limited by the Achilles or by the hamstring. I’m ready to go.”
A healthy Leshoure would provide a nice boost to Detroit’s no-name running attack.
“I think our running game has done pretty well thus far, but we need to get better,” Linehan said. “Teams are going to give us some things where we can run the ball, because they are trying to stop the passing attack.”
However, Leshoure still faces a two-game suspension at the start of the regular season after two offseason arrests.
“I definitely want to get my feet wet in these last two preseason games,” he said. “I don’t want to just get thrown into the fire in Week 3.”
Coach Jim Schwartz hasn’t made a final decision about putting Best on the physically unable to perform list, but it is sounding increasingly likely.
“With concussions, you never know how a player is going to react or recover, because each case is so different. Time is always a good thing, though, and the PUP list will buy us some of that.”
NOTES: The Lions have signed special-teams ace Kassim Osgood and waived fourth-string QB R.J. Archer. Osgood, a three-time special teams Pro Bowler, will wear No. 10 rather than his usual No. 81. That number is taken by Lions star Calvin Johnson. “Even if Calvin wanted to sell it to me, I can’t afford his price range,” Osgood said. “I’ll go back to my old Pop Warner number instead.”
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