The Detroit Lions capped off the preseason with a 26-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in a game that brought very little clarity to the running back room. Godwin Igwebuike and Craig Reynolds made respective late pushes to make the roster with some eye-popping runs, receptions, and returns Friday night. Meanwhile, rookie seventh-round pick Jermar Jefferson started the night off continuing his steady running behind some unsteady blocking, just as he has all preseason.
Unsung hero of the week: RB Jermar Jefferson
Jefferson finished the night with 11 rushes for 43 yards as well as a five-yard reception, neither of which are eye-popping numbers. However, context is important here, as the Lions’ second-team offensive line continued to struggle as they have all preseason.
In spite of that. Jefferson posted 48 scrimmage yards with some hard running and high hurdles, all in a matter of just three drives.
If there were any questions about Jefferson locking up the RB3 spot, they were answered tonight. Jefferson has been the most steady running back all preseason and the intensity and effort he brought—in what was little more than a formality of a game—spoke to that.
While it may be expected of a draft pick to have an impact, it was impressive for a seventh-round pick to have such an immediate impact. Consider the example of Dwayne Washington, a seventh-round pick in 2016 who would go on to rush for 309 yards over two seasons before the Lions moved on. The conversation around him usually focused on potential rather than performance, but Jefferson has been the opposite thus far, and could match Washington’s total this season should Jefferson play his cards right.
Running backs coach Duce Staley and the Lions have some tough decisions to make before Tuesday when it comes time to trim the running backs room and the roster as a whole, but Jermar Jefferson has proven himself and will get some meaningful touches in the regular season if he continues to play like this.