Training camp will get underway in just 4 days. You can bet the Lions coaching staff will put a focus on the running game after last year’s effort that netted just 4.0 yards per carry. Just four teams finished the year with a lower yards per carry average.
The offensive line has the makings of a decent unit and there is no doubt that the interior of the line will be as good as it has been in a number of years. The under-appreciated Stephen Peterman’s return is a bigger deal than many realize and the addition of Rob Sims should allow Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola to focus on their own assignments rather than pulling double-duty to compensate for whoever happened to be playing left guard that day. No one will mistake this group for the best offensive line in the league, but they should be enough to provide for a respectable running game.
Kevin Smith’s season was cut short due to injury but in the 13 games he played he never took a single hand-off for more than 31 yards. The lack of game breaking speed is a great way to stifle a yards per carry average. Kevin Smith should find plenty of carries when healthy, but expect them to come in a rotation with rookie Jahvid Best. Best has a leg up on Smith because he possesses the kind of game breaking speed the Lions have been looking for. Both guys were productive college running backs but there is a reason Smith was a third round draft choice while Best was taken near the end of round one. If Smith can head north and south for tough yards and Best can break some big runs then the Lions have the ability to run for more than 4.0 yards per carry in 2010.