Biggs: Schwartz clear Smith is still his top back
Kevin Smith isn’t going to lose his starting job as the Detroit Lions’ running back says coach Jim Schwartz, even if the numbers show Maurice Morris is being more productive right now.
A loss Sunday to the St. Louis Rams has raised more questions about what the Lions are up to, and Morris led the way with 63 yards on 14 carries (4.5 ypc) while Smith chugged for his 46 yards on 16 rushes (2.8 ypc). The breakout season that was supposed to happen for the second-year back Smith hasn’t materialized. In fact, he’s regressed, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone being worse than they were during the 0-16 season.
Since running for 101 yards in the Lions’ Week 3 victory over the Washington Redskins, Smith has struggled, topping out at 61 yards vs. Green Bay. After rushing for 976 yards with a 4.1-yard average as a rookie, he’s averaging 3.1 yards a rush.
But Schwartz said that Morris’ increased workload vs. the Rams was the result of a shoulder injury Smith suffered during the game.
“I don't think that anything has changed from the fact of Kevin is our lead running back and Maurice is the complementary running back,” Schwartz said. “That was always our thought when we signed Maurice Morris. It was always the thought that we were going to use two running backs. Kevin is our workhorse running back, getting most of the carries. But we always had in the plan that Maurice was going to carry balls in the game. His health hasn't allowed that every single week.”
Smith might need to get going, though, or he’ll probably find that there is more work in store for Morris no matter how his shoulder feels.
Follow me at Twitter: BradBiggs