Detroit Lions: Who is the odd man out at running back?

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Dwayne Washington
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Dwayne Washington /

With seven players currently on the depth chart at the running back position, which of them will end up being the odd men out in the Motor City?

The Detroit Lions currently have seven different players at running back. That number will be scaled down going into the regular season. So who will be the odd men out?

Well, their play during training camp and the preseason will help determine who makes the Lions’ final 53-man roster and who is looking for a job Week One.

The seven running backs currently on the roster are Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington, Matt Asiata, Mike James and rookie Tion Green.

After posting a combined 728 yards both rushing a receiving, Riddick is a lock to make the roster. So is Abdullah, who suffered a season-ending foot injury after just two games and is a 2015 second round selection.

The underrated Zenner was arguably the Lions’ most consistent rusher last season. And the fourth-year back out of South Dakota State should have a place on the final 53 as well.

Washington seems to be the x-factor within this positional group. The 2016 seventh rounder out of Washington showed flashes his rookie season, but Detroit opted to go with Zenner more late into the year.

Going into the offseason, the young core of Riddick, Abdullah, Zenner and Washington seemed to be fairly strong. If not for injuries, this group would have been far more effective in 2016.

But the Lions’ front office threw in a wild card this offseason signing Asiata. The 6’0, 219 power back was an absolute hammer for the Minnesota Vikings. Although no lock to make the roster, the addition of the 29-year old Asiata throws in an interesting wrinkle for Detroit’s upcoming training camp battles.

"“Asiata will make things interesting, but Washington could end up winning one of the returner roles, which would force him onto the team,” wrote Michael Rothstein for recently. “Barring injury, the first three backs seem set. A strong camp from Asiata, James or Green could change that.”"

Although the Detroit Lions could certainly opt to carry five running backs this season, a better bet would be just four. For my money, the fight is between second-year Dwayne Washington and free agent signee Matt Asiata.

Next: NFC North Position Rankings: Defensive Line

A wildcard to watch is Mike James. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer shined in his rookie season recording 158 rushing yards on 28 carries for the Bucs against a stout Seattle Seahawks’ defense in late 2013.