Four takes on what we saw on day one of Detroit Lions training camp

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07: Defensive back DeShawn Shead
SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07: Defensive back DeShawn Shead /
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Zach Zenner of the Detroit Lions.
DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 19: Zach Zenner #34 of the Detroit Lions runs for a short gain during the first quarter of the preseaon game against the New York Jets on August 19, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The running back battle

There has been as much speculation about the Detroit Lions running game as any aspect of the team this offseason. The Lions were dead last in the NFL in rushing yardage in 2017. Several draft picks and a fair bit of salary cap space went toward fixing that problem.

The Lions used LeGarrette Blount and Zack Zenner, of all people, with the first team according to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. Blount is an obvious choice. He is by far the most accomplished running back on the Lions roster. He has also played under several different offensive coordinators.

Ameer Abdullah and Kerryon Johnson were left to run with the second team. I would not read all that much into that personally. It is likely just a matter of what the team was working on specifically today.

Blount and Zenner are similar in terms of style and timing. If the staff was looking to work on their power running game, then it makes sense that those would be their choices for first-team reps. Getting the timing down for a role that they expect Blount to play, while sprinkling in the much quicker Abdullah and Johnson could be counterproductive. Running the ball requires an understanding from all involved of where everyone else will be and what they are likely to do.

The team will likely lean heavily on Blount until Johnson forces his way onto the field. Whether that occurs before the start of the season remains to be seen. Preparing as though they expect it is the sort of nonsense we have seen from past coaching staffs. I am glad not to have seen it at the beginning of Matt Patricia’s first training camp.