It would have been inconceivable to suggest that Kevin Smith’s roster spot was in doubt just a couple weeks ago. Momentum is now building to suggest that Smith could be the odd-man out of the Lions’ suddenly crowded backfield.
In today’s Detroit Free Press, head coach Jim Schwartz attributes Smith’s preseason struggles to yet reaching the point where Smith trusts his surgically repaired knee. A lingering psychological issue is not uncommon and could be considered reason enough to hang on to the young running back; once Smith got over that hump the Lions would have their productive runner once again. The reasoning might make sense but Schwartz did not make such a commitment in the freep article.
NFL.com’s Michael Lombardi has confirmed that Kevin Smith’s roster spot is indeed on the bubble.
Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski suggested a more creative approach to sorting out the running back situation in his article posted on mlive.com. He said this regarding the quarterback position:
The decision is whether to keep No. 3 Drew Stanton or release him to use that roster spot on another position.
Kowalski found the place to use that roster spot when summarizing the running back options facing the Lions:
Here’s a spot where Stanton’s spot could be useful. Kevin Smith still isn’t 100 percent — he had major knee surgery in December — but the Lions can’t put him on IR.
Although that approach could work, it comes with some risk. The Lions would want to turn to Stanton if something should happen to one of their other two quarterbacks because of his familiarity with the offense. They can’t guarantee he will be available if they cut him loose.
I’m still of the opinion (as is Tom Kowalski) that Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith and Jerome Felton will be joined on the roster by two the remaining backs: Aaron Brown, Maurice Morris, and DeDe Dorsey. I imagine Martin Mayhew will spend a lot of time with a telephone to his ear in hopes of making the most of the situation.