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Lions putting Jahvid Best in position to have the ball

Rookie running back could be returning kicks Brad Biggs

Print This June 06, 2010, 11:58 AM EST

There is no shortage of creative ways the Detroit Lions are coming up with to get the ball in the hands of running back Jahvid Best.

The Lions are practically trying everything during the voluntary offseason workout program as they get accustomed to the Cal product, who they traded up to select at the end of the first round, the second time in as many years the franchise has had two first-round draft picks.

Detroit is hoping Best becomes the type of explosive backfield performer that has been missing since, well, Barry Sanders prematurely retired. No, Best isn’t going to become Sanders, but the hope is he’s a step up over Kevin Smith, still rehabbing his way back from a knee injury, and Kevin Jones, another first-round attempt by the franchise.

The one thing that stands out as he runs the ball, lines up in the slot to run patterns and works as a kickoff returner is his speed.

“The first couple days, I don't even think he was running full speed, just trying to kind of figure it out, which I completely understand," quarterback Matthew Stafford said, according to Nick Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.. "He's getting it now. He's starting to understand what his role is in this offense and how we can use him. He's a smart kid, a good football player. We've just got to keep giving him experience.”

Best got some work as a return man at Cal and Lions coach Jim Schwartz doesn’t have any problem inserting him in that role right now.

“I think there's a lot of ground to be covered before we actually return a kick this year, but yeah, he'll definitely be in the mix,” Schwartz said.

Best had a history of minor injuries in college and the question is could that be a concern moving forward for a team with so much invested in him? Let’s face it, the Lions need a running back that performs at a high level more than they need the second coming of Mel Gray.

“I think the biggest thing is what his role is on offense, who else is returning, and doing what's best for the team in that regard, not worrying about injury,” Schwartz said.
 

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