DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: Kevin Smith #30 of the Detroit Lions is congratulated by Dominic Raiola #51after a second quarter touchdown during a game against the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on November 20, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The Detroit Lions are in a unique position at running back this offseason. Whether or not a big need at the position exists really depends on the health of Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure. Best is recovering from a season-ending concussion and Leshoure is trying to come back from a torn Achilles. If both end up being healthy and effective on the field, the Lions' running game should get a big boost next season.
This past season, with both Best and Leshoure out, the Lions' running game got a boost from Kevin Smith, who was brought back midseason. Smith had a breakout type of game against the Carolina Panthers, but he was slowed by injuries in the final part of the season. When healthy, he was by far the Lions' best option, but injuries have been a common problem for him during his career.
Smith is set to become a free agent next month, and right now it's unclear if he will be re-signed. A lot of things will factor into the decision, including the status of Best and Leshoure, as well as the type of deal Smith would be willing to sign. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew did make it clear today that there is interest in bringing Smith back.
Mayhew said he has interest in re-signing RB Kevin Smith.— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) February 24, 2012
Smith reiterated his interest in returning to Detroit during an interview earlier this week. He also talked about the training he has been doing this offseason and what goals he has for 2012.
"I wake up everyday at eight, get there at nine, and I'm done about one," Smith explained. "We hit field work, we lift weights, I'm on the JUGS machine every day trying to advance my game. It's not just work out, bust a sweat, and 'Oh, I got a good workout today.' It's trying to advance. So it I have to catch a hundred balls a day to try to become that 1000-1000 running back that's what I'm doing, because that's the vision I have for this season."
It's probably unrealistic to expect a completely healthy backfield for more than a couple weeks given the nature of the NFL, but a combination of Best, Leshoure and Smith would be very intriguing going into the 2012 season. Each player brings different strengths to the offense, and if the Lions are going to go forward with a running back by committee type of system, I'd say that's a pretty nice committee to work with.