Who’s the odd man out in the Detroit Lions’ offensive backfield?
Player: C.J. Anderson
Height/Weight: 5-8, 225
2018 statistics: 11 games played, 403 rushing yards, 6.0 yards per carry, 3 total touchdowns (2 teams)
2019 base salary: $1 million
Contract Status: Signed through 2019
Anderson represents a second attempt by the Lions to add a complementary power back to the rotation. Last year’s version, LeGarrette Blount, was unable to consistently add that element to the Lions’ offense, and was not retained.
Prior to signing with the Los Angeles Rams, Anderson had bounced from the Carolina Panthers to the Oakland Raiders in 2018. With star Rams running back Todd Gurley ailing late in the season, Anderson averaged a healthy 7.0 yards per carry for Los Angeles in two regular season games.
Anderson is a stout ball carrier, whom the Lions hope can produce in short yardage and goal line situations. While the ideal would be for him to excel in these areas, he was actually more effective in earlier downs last year. In 2018, he averaged 6.6 yards per carry on his 44 first down snaps compared to just 3.4 yards per carry in short yardage situations (one-three yards to go).
Anderson joins his fifth team since 2017, but his impressive performance with the Rams shows that he is likely a quick study. During their postseason run to the Super Bowl last year, Anderson chipped in with 63 rushing yards per game for the Rams.
Anderson should be a solid number two option this season for a Lions team that seems intent on running the ball with regularity. Signed to a one-year deal late in free agency, he isn’t a long term option for Detroit. But some tough running, occasional relief for Kerryon Johnson and a handful of touchdowns would represent a successful signing.
Chances of making the 53-man roster: 90 percent