Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Lions find depth at running back


Lions running back Joique Bell is tackled by the Jets' Sheldon Richardson in a preseason game Friday.


ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Running back Reggie Bush was one of the bigger free-agent signings in Detroit Lions history.

That doesn’t means he will be hogging the carries this season.

Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure rushed for more than a combined 1,000 yards in Detroit’s pass-happy offense last year, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan thinks there’s still room for both of them.

“They’ve all got experience,” Linehan said. “Reggie’s got the most and, really, Joique got a great year for us last year with the injuries and Mikel being there, too. They complement each other, and they’ll be seeing some snaps for us.”

Bush made his biggest impact as a receiver and returner after New Orleans drafted him in the first round of the 2006 draft. He showed he could be an everyday running back after he went to Miami before the 2011 season.

There, he rushed for 1,086 and 986 yards in consecutive seasons before becoming a free agent. It’s likely the Lions will continue to take advantage of his abilities as a receiver, much the same way Linehan did with Jahvid Best, who was let go following recurring effects from a concussion.

Leshoure missed his entire rookie season with an Achilles tendon injury and was out the first two games last year due to a suspension. He proved to be Detroit’s most reliable back, gaining 798 yards on 215 carries and scoring a team-best nine touchdowns. He also caught 34 passes for 214 yards.

Bell, who once worked part-time as a security guard while playing at nearby Wayne State, spent his first two professional seasons bouncing around a handful of practice squads before he was signed by the Lions near the end of the 2011 season.

He gained 414 yards while averaging five yards per carry and scored three touchdowns out of the backfield last year. He also caught 52 passes for 485 yards. Much of his playing time came because Best was unable to play due to a concussion.

“With a couple young players to add to what we’re doing now with Reggie in the fold, everybody kind of brings something different to the table,” Linehan said.

Detroit could use a boost for its running game. It ranked 24th in the league with 81 yards per game, but that made them a good fit in the NFC North, where none of the four teams cracked the top 20 in rushing yards.

The Lions play their second exhibition game on Thursday night at Cleveland and open the season Sept. 8 against visiting Minnesota.

NOTES: Safety Louis Delmas (knee) said there’s no timetable for his return. “Is it important for me to get out there? Yes,” he said. “Is it wise? I don’t think so.” ... The Lions will see Cleveland during the sixth week of the regular season, but head coach Jim Schwartz isn’t concerned with what the teams might show or hesitate to show each other during Thursday’s preseason matchup. “Over the course of the season, you’re going to show those things anyway,” he said. “You wanna see players win, not schemes win [in a preseason game].”

Longwell retires

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Veteran kicker Ryan Longwell says it’s great to retire as a Green Bay Packer.

Longwell, 39, was back in Green Bay to officially call it a career. He scored 1,054 points during his nine seasons in Green Bay (1997-2005) and holds franchise records in field goals made (226) and field-goal percentage (81.6).

Longwell played his final six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

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