The Detroit Lions have really put a focus on improving their running game this offseason. Improving the offensive line is obviously a big part of that, as evidenced by their moves to add Laken Tomlinson and Manny Ramirez and part ways with Dominic Raiola.
The offensive line can only do so much if the running backs aren't performing, though. That's why the Lions decided to move on from Reggie Bush earlier in the offseason. Bush's contract certainly played a role in their decision to release him, but it really seemed like a performance-based decision as much as anything.
With Bush out of the picture, the Lions went ahead and drafted Ameer Abdullah in the second round. By adding him to a running back committee that already included Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, the Lions have a pretty intriguing trio of backs going into the 2015 season. What's more, it seems the Lions have a specific plan in mind for how they are going to utilize each of these running backs this year. Check out what Jim Caldwell had to say last week:
"The thing about it, we don't have two guys the same for the most part. They all have a little different sort of strength and we can utilize that. You know, Joique is a power back who also can get on the edge and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Theo (Riddick) is probably a little bit more of an edge guy. I'm not saying he can't run inside, but he's along the edge a little bit more. So, you know, those are different players. I think when you get a chance to see Ameer (Abdullah), you'll kind of see what his style is as well. He's pretty versatile."
The Lions' exact plans will likely change from week to week depending on the matchup, performance and injuries. However, I could see a game plan where Bell gets the bulk of the down-to-down carries, Abdullah is utilized as the change-of-pace back and home-run threat and Riddick is primarily used as a receiver. That type of plan would seemingly cater to each of these player's strengths, and it would seemingly keep the Lions' running backs fresh by constantly rotating them in and out of the game.