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Pros and cons: Lions running back bingo


In an effort to give equal time (and snark), after doing the pros and cons of the men under center for the Lions, SLR looks at the 5 running backs competing for 3 open spots on Detroit’s roster.

Let’s start picking apart the candidates!

Kevin Smith


Whoops! The wrong Kevin Smith…My bad.

Smith’s 618th carry in 2007. God damn O’Leary…

Pro: Too young to be affected by the Lions’ sad and sordid history.
Con: Thus leading to statements full of braggadocio like “We’ll win a playoff game this season.”

Pro: Had a monster college career at Central Florida, with the 2nd highest single season rushing total in NCAA history in ’07.
Con: Averaged a monster 32 carries per game in ’07. Running backs have only so many carries in their bodies, and George O’Leary abused Smith.

Pro: Has the most natural talent of any back on the Lions’ roster.
Con: Not entirely sure if the Lions actually realize that, or why would Smith be sharing time with Tatum Bell?

Overall: If not the starter when the season starts, Smith will be soon after. Will be the Lions primary ball carrier in 2008, and the Lions will be a better running team because of it.

Tatum Bell

Marinelli: Uh, Tatum? 2.5 yards a carry isn’t gonna cut it, mmmkay?

Pro: Rushed for 1000 yards in a season with the Denver Broncos.
Con: The following backs have also had 1000 yard rushing seasons in Mike Shannahan’s Denver system –

Michael Phelps, Nicole Ritchie, Marky Mark (the Funky Bunch went for 750), the fast talker in the old Fed Ex commercials, Brisco County Jr., Master Shake, Bob “Crazy Legs” Costas, Vic Romano (Mr. Inside) and Kenny Blankenship (Mr. Outside), Abe Vigoda (stepped into the lineup when Guy LeDouche tore an ACL) and Air Bud.

Bell’s yards don’t look quite so impressive in hindsight, do they?

Pro: Had the gumption to return to Detroit even after being benched for the final 10 games of 2007. Pretty gutty decision on his part.
Con: Was brought back despite benched for the final 10 games of 2007. Pretty dumb decision on the Lions’ part.

Pro: May be better suited to be a backup, not having to carry the entire rushing workload.
Con: Do you really need to keep a backup running back who can’t do anything else (be a contributor on special teams) on your roster?

Overall: Not being a special teams player hurts Bell’s chances of making the final cut, but his experience will keep him in Detroit as Smith’s primary backup.

Aveion Cason

Cason being knocked backwards 5 yards on a typical kick return

Pro: Mike Martz really likes Cason.
Con: Martz also really likes J.T.O’Sullivan. ‘Nuff said.

Pro: Can return punts and kickoffs.
Con: Being able to return kicks, and being good at it, are two entirely different things.

Pro: Good on special teams.
Con: As long as it doesn’t involve returning kicks.

Overall: As much as I HATE to say it, Cason is my pick to win the 3rd string running back battle, for one reason only. It’s due to the fact he can make more of an impact on special teams than either Pinner or Calhoun.

Artose Pinner

Pinner scoring a TD during his best game as a pro,

against the Lions. Figures…

Pro: Had a 125 yard rushing game against the Lions while a Minnesota Viking.
Con: Is that really an accomplishment?

Pro: Has the most experience of any of the backs, save for Aveion Cason.
Con: All as a backup.

Pro: Relatively capable as a backup running back.
Con: If that’s the most positive thing you can say…

Overall: Pinner is on the roster bubble, fighting for the final running back spot with Cason and Calhoun. Will probably lose out to Cason, as for some ungodly reason, the Lions think Cason can return kicks.

Brian Calhoun

Did a GIS, and found this Fu Manchu’ed Brian Calhoun.

Turns out the cowboy Calhoun has a better YPC than the Lions’ Calhoun

Pro: None
Con: Everything

Overall: Calhoun was a 3rd round draft pick in 2006, and the Lions have regretted it ever since. Was supposed to be a 3rd down change of pace back/receiver out of the backfield and return kicks, and thanks to a combination of injuries and suckitude, has shown the capabilities to do neither. Just look at him funny, and Calhoun will blow out a knee. The Lions will finally cut their losses, and cut Calhoun before the start of the season.