Found November 07, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Seeing Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford atop the NFL with 346 pass attempts this season isn't surprising. Stafford led the league with 663 attempts last season.But just when opposing teams figured they could zero in on Detroit's offense by focusing on the passing attack led by Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson, the Lions have added an unexpected wrinkle Detroit is able to run the ball.Second-year running back Mikel Leshoure and little-known backup Joique Bell combined for four rushing touchdowns in last week's 31-14 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Lions rushed for a season-high 149 yards as a team.Leshoure ran 16 times for 70 yards and three first-half touchdowns. Bell had 13 carries for 73 yards and a late touchdown to finish off the victory. Now the 5-4 Minnesota Vikings, who host 4-4 Detroit Sunday, have something extra to think about."Our run game has improved on offense; getting (rookie offensive lineman) Riley Rieff into the mix and the rest of our offensive lineman and tight ends are blocking well, our running backs are running the ball," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said on a conference call with Minnesota media Wednesday. "The last couple of games we're somewhere in the neighborhood of 70, 75 percent on third downs on offense and we're 100 percent in the red zone."Being able to run the ball in the red zone has been a big plus for the usually pass-happy Lions. Detroit ranks just 22nd in the league in rushing, averaging 103.6 yards per game. The assistance, though, helps its top-ranked passing attack, which is averaging 307.3 yards per game.Last year, the Lions were 29th in the league in rushing, and Stafford has seen the difference the running game has made recently."It's different," Stafford said on a conference call. "Obviously, I see some different looks than I'm used to. We used to get in big personnel groups and get two high safeties and teams would play two-man out of it. We don't get that much more with the efficiency in which we're running it out of those sets. It's been a good positive for us. We're trying to continue to do that."Much of the rushing renaissance has been due to the emergence of Leshoure, the 2011 second-round pick who missed all of last season with an Achilles' injury and was ineligible for the first two games this season. In his first game of the season, the big 6-foot, 227-pound back reached the 100-yard mark against the Tennessee Titans. He's reached 70 yards twice since then, which isn't much in the NFL, but it does count for a change in Detroit's offense. Bell, a versatile undrafted third-year back, is contributing offensively for the first time in his career."Both of those guys, just like a lot of young players that we have and across the league, they're just striving for consistency from game to game," Schwartz said.Minnesota will face the Lions with its run defense in tatters recently following a strong start to the season."We've got to figure out a way to get that figured out because Detroit is running the football a lot better than when we played them earlier this season," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "They're much more intentional about running the ball. So, it's something we've got to get corrected, like, right now."Leshoure is the latest in the line of running backs Detroit has tried to establish since the days when Barry Sanders was one of the league's best. In the 13 years since Sanders retired, the Lions have had a 1,000-yard back just three times, the last being Kevin Jones in 2004.Jahvid Best was a first-round pick in 2010, but he's had his season wiped out by continuing concussion concerns. Enter LeShoure, who has the draft pedigree and is built to be a true workhorse back."He's basically a rookie right now," Schwartz said. "So, he's sort of just going through things. This will be the second time facing a Minnesota Vikings' team, first time in his career he's faced a team for the second time. So, just being consistent from week to week."Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
REPEAT WINNER

Player poll: Suh NFL's dirtiest player

For the second year in a row, Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh was voted as the league's dirtiest player in a poll of NFL players.

Roller-coaster first half for Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- In many ways, the first half of this Detroit Lions season has gone the complete opposite of how most would have expected. No touchdown passes from Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson, but a respectable, emerging run game? The secondary, widely considered the teams weak link, is depleted by injuries week after week, but the Lions still rank No. 7 in total defense...

Jahvid Best wants to continue to play football

Even though the Detroit Lions have officialy ended running back Jahvid Best’s season, his agent Tony Fleming says he still wants to continue his NFL career. “He obviously still wants to play, we’re just in a climate now in the NFL where everybody’s extra cautious,” Fleming said, per the Detroit Free-Press. “Everybody is concerned about Jahvid and his health and his future...

Detroit Lions Center Dominic Raiola Calls Out Anonymous GM

Again, the Detroit Lions have been called out by this so-called anonymous GM.  A few weeks ago he called their defensive line completely overrated and took some shots at a few specific players in a Pro Football Weekly article.  Lions center Dominic Raiola responded to the claims calling him a coward, and it seemed to be the end of it.Unfortunately that was not the case.  The anonymous...

Banged-up WR Johnson still a force for Lions

Banged-up Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson says his knee is feeling better than it did this time last week. Johnson toughed out Detroit's 31-14 victory over Jacksonville on Sunday, catching seven passes for 129 yards after getting a pain-killing shot in his left knee. The All-Pro receiver is on pace to post similar numbers to last season in catches and yards - although he has...

Lions' Burleson pulls for his replacements

The next time Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson puts his pads on, he will be 32 and coming off major leg surgery. Burleson suffered a season-ending broken right leg in the Lions' Oct. 22 loss to the Chicago Bears. He understands there is a possibility the Lions could move on without him. He understands that if receivers Ryan Broyles and Titus Young continue to grow...

Detroit Lions: Week 10 NFL Power Rankings (#16)

Last week: 20 (+4) Record: 4-4 With the NFC East struggling lately outside of the Giants and the NFC West struggling lately outside of San Francisco and Seattle (who the Lions beat), the Lions are suddenly right back in the thick of things after a disappointing 1-3 start. I think they rank firmly ahead of Philadelphia, Dallas, Minnesota, Arizona, St. Louis, and Washington right now...

Detroit Lions seek revenge in Minnesota

In the season’s first meeting between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings, Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards to the house, setting the tone in what turned out to be a 20-13 Vikings victory. This Sunday in the Metrodome, the Lions look to return the favor and beat the Vikings on their house. The game kicks off at 1:05p.m. and airs on Fox. The kickoff return...

NFL looked into Megatron’s concussion but not his “nerve damage”… still cue the Madden curse claims

On September 30th, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson endured a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway. In the weeks after the game, Johnson claimed that he suffered a concussion and is now saying he suffered nerve damage to the extent that it’s affecting the grip he gets on the ball. However the funny thing about Johnson’s claim is it hasn’t appeared...

Perfect timing: Lions brutal with the run

The Vikings have surrendered 100-yard rushing performances in four consecutive weeks. Enter the Detroit Lions, whose struggles to rush the ball are pronounced, as witnessed by several different statistics.
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.