Mikel Leshoure’s days are numbered in Detroit. I don’t think the Detroit Lions are eager to give up on the former second round pick, but things are starting to pile up against the fourth year running back. For starters, the emergence of George Winn is a very real problem for Leshoure. Through two preseason games it’s apparent that the two backs are fighting for only one spot on the roster.
Last week against the Raiders, both back had over 35 snaps a piece while Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, and Theo Riddick all hovered at 14 or below. Heading into camp it appeared that if Leshoure just showed something throughout the preseason he’d be an almost lock to make the squad. But then the games started to be played.
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Winn has out performed Leshoure on offense, running with considerably more burst and purpose. The Lions also played Winn on first team kick and punt teams. Winn made two tackles in the process, something that head coach Jim Caldwell noted after Monday’s practice.
"We put him in some situations, we put him on special teams, to see how he would function within that realm. Because at that particular position, depends on where you line up as a running back, where you are on the depth chart. You’re going to have to make strong contributions in the special team’s area, in order to be a guy that will have an opportunity to hang around and make this team."
The last line there is a telling one. When figuring out the bottom of the roster, guys have to contribute on special teams. Both Leshoure and Winn have played on special teams throughout the preseason, but so far Winn has come out on top of that battle.
The other factor working against Leshoure is his price tag. Leshoure’s current cap hit is around $1.09M. His dead money if cut is $292,060, a savings of $793,297. For a team that is as cash strapped as the Lions, Leshoure may not be a luxury they can afford. I’m not sure if the Lions can trade him or if they would outright cut him, but I have a hard time seeing him making the final roster cuts.
Caldwell continued Monday, explaining what’s important for him as he decides who should make the final 53-man roster.
"I’m in the business of winning games and winning games now. OK? So the most important thing to me is getting guys who can be in a position to help us win right now. There are other, businesses (and) positions within the organization that may look at it differently, but we have to look at it as coaches. We’re looking for the best guy to help us win, at this particular moment in time, and that’s what counts for us."
The fact is, reserve players who don’t contribute on special teams have a very hard time even dressing on Sunday’s, and Caldwell is looking for someone who can help the Lions win now. You can’t help the team win if you’re riding the bench.