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The Leshoure Thing

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Mikel Leshoure needs a breakout season if Detroit is serious about contending. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.
Mikel Leshoure needs a breakout season if Detroit is serious about contending. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

This upcoming season, running back Reggie Bush will undeniably carry the rushing load for the Detroit Lions. That part remains certain.

If the Lions offense is to remain effective over the course of a grueling 16-game schedule, major contributions from the rushing committee, Mikel Leshoure in particular, are required. 

Leshoure is only 23 years old and has a heap of potential. During his senior year as the lead running back for Illinois back in 2010, he posted a staggering 1,697 yards on 281 carries and scored 17 touchdowns. He averaged six yards per carry that year. Not only does he have the size to break tackles in the open field, but he possesses good breakaway speed once he gets into the open field. 

Unfortunately, Leshoure has yet to make the type of impact that the Lions brass had anticipated when selecting him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Things got off to a tumultuous start when he tore Achilles tendon in minicamp and missed his entire rookie season.

Looking to respond accordingly in 2012, he began the season on suspension for off-field issues. He would return in Week 3 to rush for 100 yards on 26 carries, his only game over the century mark. Leshoure saw action in every game remaining on the schedule, finishing the season with a mediocre 798 yards on 215 carries, averaging 3.7 yards per.

Leshoure is 6-foot, 227 pounds of compact power. Despite a nagging hamstring injury that bothered him for most of 2012, he rushed for nine touchdowns, eight of which came on goalline situations. That's always good for the Lions to have, considering their needs of passing and speed in the backfield.

As of today, he is a light participant in Detroit's OTAs as he nurses an unrelated hamstring issue.

Leshoure doesn't possess the versatility and speed of Reggie Bush, nor does he pack the home run ability that Jahvid Best does; however, he does have the power and agility to be the go-to-guy in short yardage situations.

Despite his seemingly fickle health during his professional career, he has shown the ability to fulfill this role with winning effort and results. If the Lions plan to be serious contenders, Leshoure will need to capitalized on the potential that polarized his supporters once upon a time.