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2015 Detroit Lions roster review: Running backs

A look at how the Lions' running backs performed in 2015 and a look ahead to the future of the position.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

As part of our season wrap-up series, we are going to examine how each player on the roster performed in 2015. Next, let's take a look at the Detroit Lions' running backs.

Ameer Abdullah

2015 stats: 16 games (9 starts) | 143 carries, 597 yards (4.2 YPC), 2 TD | 25 catches, 183 yards, 1 TD | 2 lost fumbles
2016 status: Signed through 2018

Abdullah's rookie year was modest, but good. Expectations were sky high after a few splashy plays in the preseason and didn't slow down after his first career carry went for a 24-yard touchdown. However, the Lions limited his role during much of the season, and Abdullah's main contribution was through special teams, returning kickoffs. Still, Abdullah finished with the most rushing yards on the team, the highest YPC average and the most rushes of over 20 yards. Fumbling was an on and off issue for Abdullah, as he put the ball on the ground five times during the season, but only lost it in twice.

Joique Bell

2015 stats: 13 games (5 starts) | 90 carries, 311 yards (3.5 YPC), 4 TD  | 22 catches, 286 yards
2016 status: Signed through 2016

It was a rough season for Bell. After an extremely slow start, Bell suffered an ankle injury just a month into the season and missed three games. However, Bell began to regain his mojo as he recuperated. He started breaking more tackles, displaying his incredible balance, and pounding the ball in as the goal line back. Granted it was against lesser opponents, but Bell finished the last four games of the season with 143 yards and two touchdowns. Those aren't astronomical numbers, but considering the Lions' crowded backfield, that's solid production.

Theo Riddick

2015 stats: 16 games (1 start) | 43 carries, 133 yards (3.1 YPC) | 80 catches, 697 yards, 3 TDs | 1 lost fumble
2016 status: Signed through 2016

It was a breakout season for Riddick, despite being the worst statistical runner of Detroit's top three running backs. His 80 catches were a franchise record, and by the end of the season, Riddick had become an integral part of the Lions' passing game. In fact, he finished with only ten fewer receptions and 116 fewer receiving yards than Golden Tate. Riddick is scheduled to make less than $700,000 next year, which is the final year of his contract. The Lions may be looking to extend that contract this offseason to pay the man what he is worth.

Zach Zenner

2015 stats: 6 games (1 start) | 17 carries, 60 yards (3.5 YPC) | 2 catches, 11 yards
2016 status: Signed through 2017

Zenner's season was tragically cut short after brutally cracking his ribs and damaging his lungs in Week 6 against the Bears. Zenner was a great story, having gone undrafted and making it through training camp. He even got a start in just the fifth game of his career.

George Winn:

2015 stats: 7 games (0 starts) | 4 carries, 1 yard (0.25 YPC)
2016 status: Exclusive rights free agent

With Zenner's emergence and Abdullah's acquisition, Winn did not have an offensive role with the team this season. However, with Zenner's injury, Winn did see a significant amount of playing a special teams player. Winn's biggest contribution for the team was his five special teams tackles.

Outlook for 2016

The Lions appear to be set at running back, but one big question remains: should the Lions retain Joique Bell. Bell made a good case for himself in the final games of the season, but he will count $3.5 million against the cap in the final year of his contract next season. That's more than Abuddlah and Riddick combined. The Lions could choose to restructure or extend Bell to spread out that money over time. Or they could just part ways with the soon-to-be 30 year old and save $2.5 million.

Previously: Quarterbacks

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