With injury concerns at the running back position, should the Detroit Lions consider trading for this plodding back who is also a two-time Pro Bowler.
Going into the upcoming NFL regular season, the Detroit Lions have some real concerns at running back. Veteran Theo Riddick and former second round selection Ameer Abdullah are the favorites to start in the Lions’ backfield in 2017. But both missed significant time last season due to injury. It’s likely a very solid bet to think neither will play all 16 games this year as well due to their injury history.
Beyond Riddick and Abdullah are running backs Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington. Both backs are thought to have starter potential but the Lions’ coaching staff don’t seem to trust or believe in them enough to leapfrog Theo and Ameer on the depth chart.
This offseason, the Lions’ did add veteran power back Matt Asiata, formerly the hammer for the Minnesota Vikings. But it appears Asiata is far from a lock to even make Detroit’s 53-man roster, much less snatch a starting role.
But the real darkhorses to make this roster are veteran running back Mike James and rookie Tion Green. Neither figure to make it past August although Green could certainly be put on the practice squad.
So it appears the Lions are comfortable going into Week One with essentially the same running back group they had last season. A season in which Detroit rushed for an average of 81.9 yards per game, ranking a lowly 30th in the NFL.
But what can the Lions do about that now? They allowed the NFL Draft to pass, that many believed possessed one of the most talented running back classes in recent memory, without drafting one. All the big name free agents have been scooped up. What can Detroit do to solidify the position now?
I believe I may have found the answer. I think the Lions could find a hidden gem at running back by trading for two-time Pro Bowler Alfred Morris. Currently a member of the Dallas Cowboys, the 28-year old Morris is likely third on the depth chart in Big “D” behind Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden.
Morris was rumored to be on the trading block earlier this offseason and could likely be had for a late round draft pick. And he’s young enough to still be effective and should have something left to prove.
But Morris is a plodder, who takes several carries to get going. He simply never got enough carries sitting behind Elliott in Dallas, a player that lead the league with 322 attempts last season. With McFadden assuming the primary back-up role to Zeke this season, Morris seems to be on the outs.
In Detroit, Abdullah’s too fragile to be a workhorse and likely makes a better change of pace back. Riddick is the league’s best receiving threat out of the backfield and makes the perfect third down back for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
What the Lions really need is a veteran like Morris who can play first and second downs, run between the tackles grinding for those tough yards and who is a decent pass protector.
During his first three seasons in the NFL, Morris rushed for more than 1,000 yards each year for the Washington Redskins. He was nominated for the Pro Bowl twice during that span and named an All-Pro in 2012. But the last two seasons, Morris has been wasting away as a back-up.
In Detroit, a consistent, plodding running back like Alfred Morris could be the perfect complement to scat backs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. And at this point of the offseason, with training camp kicking off later this month, getting a player like Morris would be a real find.