As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Next up is the running back position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
New to the team: None
The Lions didn't make any changes to the running back position this offseason. Joique Bell, who is expected to have a bigger role in the Lions' new offense, is back after re-signing with the team, and Reggie Bush is back to play in a scheme similar to the one from his New Orleans days. Bell and Bush are basically expected to be co-starters in 2014, giving the Lions an excellent one-two combination at the position.
Theo Riddick and Mikel Leshoure are once again occupying the next two spots on the running back depth chart. Riddick has received a lot of praise this offseason, and he has been talked up by multiple people as a potential sleeper for 2014. It remains to be seen just how much playing time he will receive, but the Lions seem to have a role in mind for him. It's unclear if there is actually a role for Leshoure, who barely even played last year, but he is hoping to get back on the field in his final season under contract with the Lions.
At the bottom of the depth chart are Montell Owens and Steven Miller. Owens was injured for basically all of last season. The Lions had plans for him to be a key contributor on special teams and a versatile depth player in the backfield on offense, but that obviously did not happen. This year, it seems unlikely that there will be a role on offense for Owens, so he will have to really impress on special teams to make the 53-man roster.
As for Miller, he spent parts of last season on the practice squad, and that's probably where he will end up again this year. He did show flashes of potential on a few occasions in the preseason last year, but it would be pretty shocking if he made the 53-man roster considering there may not even be enough spots for Leshoure and Owens, who are both currently ahead of him.
Need going forward?
The Lions are in excellent shape at running back, especially if you believe the Riddick hype. Bell and Bush form a talented top two at the position, and Riddick and Leshoure both seem capable of stepping in if called upon. Even Owens has shown some promise in the past, and there's probably not even enough room to keep him on the 53-man roster.
In other words, the Lions are set at running back. Even if someone were to go down with an injury, there's enough depth in place already that the Lions wouldn't even have to go out and add a free agent. They could always decide to add even more bodies at the bottom of the depth chart with an eye on potential options for the practice squad, but no needs exist at the running back position for the Lions this year.