Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/30/11

Jahvid Best’s fragile health and the recent proposed trade for Ronnie Brown have made me start to wonder what the realistic options are for Detroit at running back. Matthew Stafford can resort to short passes to substitute for the run, but it would benefit him and the team if he was able to take a breather on occasion. The ability to hand the ball off now and again is a necessity when the team is ahead, after a play when he is pressured or sacked, and when he is not at one hundred percent.

The first name that jumped out at me is Brian Westbrook. The free agent played almost a decade in Philadelphia and was a phenomenal pass catcher like Jahvid Best. His ability to stop and start on a dime would be perfectly suited for the fast turf at Ford Field. During his prime,  he played in the NFC East-which was the top conference in the league. Now it may very well be the NFC North. This means that he is used to facing the best and excelling.

Julius Jones spent seven years in the league with the Cowboys, Saints, and Seahawks. He gained over five thousand yards on the ground and had twenty two touchdowns. Only recently thirty, he still would be a viable candidate for the Lions. His time in Dallas and in college at Notre Dame prove that he enjoys performing on the biggest stages. He also hopped around teams during the last couple of seasons and that proves that he is still hungry to be in the league. Desire is key later on in careers because it takes so much more work to get on the field and be effective. If the drive isn’t there, then the production will fall off a cliff for any given player.

Tiki Barber has run for over ten thousand yards throughout his illustrious career. Some may see all of his off the field trouble as a possible distraction in the locker room. It may in fact create a fire that the team could use after suffering two straight losses. He has proven himself to be a major factor for his New York football Giants. He hasn’t always been the most ideal teammate, but all of that can be put aside if he produces on the field. He doesn’t have to be on Christmas card lists to produce for the Lions.

Kevin Smith is an intriguing option for Detroit. He was already part of the team for a few years before he was released. The athlete out of Central Florida is different from the aforementioned names because he is much younger. Do you remember the contrast between Emmit Smith on the Cardinals verses what he was on the Cowboys? He didn’t even look like the same player. The other candidates have bigger names and more accomplishments, but they may not be able to give Jim Schwartz what a runner in his prime could. Doing nothing will not solve the problem.

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