As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Draft, we are going to take a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster. We continue the series with a look at the Lions' running backs.
Under contract: Reggie Bush (2016), Theo Riddick (2016), Mikel Leshoure (2014), Montell Owens (2014), Steven Miller (2015)
Free agents: Joique Bell (RFA)
The Lions were in the fortunate position of having two starting-caliber running backs in 2013. They brought in Reggie Bush as a free agent, and he served as the actual starter. He turned out to be a great fit for the Lions offense, and he became a playmaker out of the backfield. In a different way, Joique Bell also became a playmaker out of the backfield for the Lions with his hard-nosed running style. He is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, but all indications are that he will be back with the Lions in 2014.
Behind the top two backs is an interesting combination of players. Theo Riddick was the Lions' No. 3 running back last year, and he can contribute as a runner, in the slot and on special teams. His versatility helped move him ahead of Mikel Leshoure, who really didn't even get a chance to play in 2013. Leshoure is entering the final year of his deal, and right now it doesn't look like he has a role on this team. I suppose that could change with a new coaching staff in place, though.
The other two backs currently on the roster are Montell Owens and Steven Miller. Owens was injured for most of the 2013 season. If he can stay healthy this year, he could get playing time every now and then in a fullback kind of role on offense, but it seems like his biggest contributions might actually come on special teams. As for Miller, much like last year, he will probably just end up being a camp body. Unless there's an injury, his chances of making the team don't seem great.
Need going forward?
Thanks to the addition of Bush and the rise of Bell, the Lions are pretty much set at running back. They have an excellent one-two punch with Bush and Bell, who complement each other quite well. Also, they have solid depth with Riddick, Leshoure and Owens behind them. Even Miller showed some flashes of potential in the preseason last year. Perhaps the Lions could add another undrafted free agent as a camp body, but there's really no need for help at this position right now.