By Will Burchfield
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Justin Forsett has two words for anyone questioning what he has left after he was released by the Baltimore Ravens: “Watch me.”
The veteran running back was signed on Tuesday by the Lions, who are looking to replenish a depleted backfield.
“Obviously he’s a guy that has had production. He’s certainly a guy who can create some space. He’s a tough runner, he can catch the ball. There’s a number of things that we think he’ll be able to do for us,” said Jim Caldwell.
The Lions’ ground game has struggled in recent weeks, crippled by the loss of starting running back Ameer Abdullah and further hampered by the absence of rookie Dwayne Washington. Forsett is eager to help turn things around.
“Wherever they want me,” he said, explaining how he sees himself fitting within the Lions offense. “I’ve done a lot of things throughout my career so I just want to be used. That’s the main reason and my main purpose and however they use me I’m ready for it.”
Forsett, 30, is in his ninth NFL season. The Lions are his fifth team. His vast experience gives him confidence that he can learn Detroit’s offense without much of a delay.
“I’ve been playing a long time so a lot of things I can marry to information I already had beforehand, so I think I can pick it up fairly quickly,” Forsett said.
On top of that, he has been hunkered over the Lions playbook since he finalized his deal.
“That’s the only thing I’ve been seeing,” he chuckled.
For his career, Forsett has averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. His best season came in 2014, when he racked up eight touchdowns and over 1,200 yards with the Ravens. His production slipped in 2015 and the early parts of 2016, ultimately leading to his release.
But Forsett is convinced he can still contribute. He’s defied the odds since breaking into the league in 2008.
“I always play with a chip on my shoulder. I’m 5’8, 195 pounds and a seventh-round draft pick. So nine years (later), I still have a chip,” he said.
In his travels around the league, Forsett has come across myriad players and coaches. He briefly crossed paths with Jim Caldwell in 2008 with the Indianapolis Colts, and his fondness for Detroit’s head coach was a big reason why he chose to sign with the Lions.
“It was just a good opportunity, man. I love Coach Caldwell, I had him in Indy for my stint there. I know some of the guys here on the team and it was just a good fit,” he said.
Forsett also intersected with safety Glover Quin during their time on the Houston Texans. Quin has been impressed by Forsett’s ability to stick around – and succeed – in spite of his stature.
“I always find it very intriguing to see guys of his size be able to stay in the NFL for this many years. Obviously they can do something well,” Quin said. “You look at him, you look at Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, some of the smaller backs that can stay in the league for a long time, they must know how to run the ball, they must make plays in the pass game and they have to be able to pass protect.
“So the fact that he’s been around that many years says a lot.”
Forsett got a first-hand look at this year’s Lions team when Detroit squared off with Baltimore in the preseason. He came away impressed by a “young, electrifying team.”
“We saw some of the weapons that they had on offense,” he said. “I’m glad I’m here.”