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Published: Thursday, 9/22/2011

Best just fine in background as Lions' threat

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Detroit running back Jahvid Best pulls away from Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Jon McGraw in Sunday's game. Best has 237 total yards in two games, 28 percent of the Lions' offense. Detroit running back Jahvid Best pulls away from Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Jon McGraw in Sunday's game. Best has 237 total yards in two games, 28 percent of the Lions' offense.
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best if often overlooked when people talk about the NFC's highest-scoring offense.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson get much of the attention, followed by Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler.

Best, though, insists it doesn't bother him.

"I don't mind it at all," Best said yesterday. "I just care about winning, we've done that twice so far, and that's all that matters.

"I'm just praying I don't get another freak injury."

So far, so good, heading into Sunday's game on the road against the winless Minnesota Vikings.

Best has helped Detroit rout Kansas City at home and win at Tampa Bay, avoiding injuries after banged-up big toes stunted his rookie season.

"Last year was like rock bottom," said Best, who was slowed by a concussion last month. "It can only go up from there. Last year, dealing with those toes and it being my first year was tough. That has made this year be easier."

He has touched the ball 47 times through two games, the busiest stretch of his brief career, and his 237 yards have accounted for 28 percent of the Lions' offense. He has 37 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown along with 10 catches, ranking second on the team, for 108 yards and a score.

Best can burst through a hole on the ground and he can catch passes out of the backfield, complementing the Stafford-and-Johnson-led unit and giving opponents one more guy to worry about.

"The acceleration that he has, it really jumps out at you when you watch the tape," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "It doesn't take him long for him to get to top speed. Give him a draw or a screen and he puts the pedal to metal in a hurry."

That's why Detroit traded up in the draft last year to select Best No. 30 overall, giving up a second-round pick and some later-round selections to Minnesota.

Best missed the last four games of his final season at California after a fall knocked him out and sent him to the hospital with a concussion and sore back. Then he couldn't stay healthy last year.

He got off to a sensational start in the NFL, the first rookie to score five times in his first two games since Detroit's Billy Sims in 1980.

He had 154 yards receiving in Week 2, the most by a first-year running back since Herschel Walker in 1986, 232 yards of offense and three scores.

In Week 3, coincidently at Minnesota, Best left the game in the third quarter with an injured great toe on his right foot and was never the same the rest of the season. He played through the pain every game.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz is thankful to have Best back.

"He's been healthy," Schwartz said. "Last year starting early in the season, he had the toe injuries and was never able to get back until it was really late. We started seeing a little bit of it, but it wasn't as consistent as it is now."



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