By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

CBS DETROIT – With the Detroit Lions low on cap space already and heavily pursuing All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who becomes a free agent March 10, many have speculated the Lions could release 10-year veteran running back Reggie Bush and go with a younger, less expensive alternative to save some money.

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NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock suggested that either Ameer Abdullah from Nebraska or Duke Johnson from Miami, both of whom Mayock expects the Lions could select in the second round of the draft, would make a suitable alternative for Bush.

Johnson rushed for 1,652 yards on 242 attempts in his junior season, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, and he scored 10 touchdowns. Abdullah, a senior in 2014, rushed for 1,611 yards on 264 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per carry, and he scored 19 touchdowns.

“The knock on Abdullah, and it’s significant, are fumbles,” Mayock said in a conference call. “I think he had 24 career fumbles and he lost 17 of them, which is the worst I’ve seen in a while, and that is compiled with small hands. That’s what bothers the scouts is not only the fumbles, but the fact that he’s got small hands, which probably accounts for the fumbles. If you take that out of the equation, he is the quintessential space player. Catch the football, real quick, make him miss.

“I think Duke Johnson from Miami is in that same mold,” Mayock continued. “I really like Duke Johnson. As you go down through the draft, you can pick up some guys in the later rounds, and right now I would say they’re the two guys. You can get them in the second round; that can replace a Reggie Bush.”

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Bush was limited to playing 11 games this season because of persistent ankle problems, and he finished the season with 297 yards on 76 carries. The previous year he had turned in 1,006 yards on 223 carries.

Bush signed a reported four-year, $16 million deal with Detroit before the 2013 season and has two years remaining on his deal.

The other running backs the Lions currently have include Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. Riddick’s style is more similar to that of Bush, but Bell emerged as the number one running back as Bush struggled to get healthy. Bell amassed 860 yards on 223 attempts.

Detroit’s running game in 2014 was among the least productive in the NFL, averaging just 88.9 rushing yards per game, good for 28th in the league.

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