The Detroit Lions running backs are set going into the fourth preseason game

Detroit Lions, Theo Riddick (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions, Theo Riddick (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions added a lot of depth to their running back room by bringing in talent at the top and pushing their existing players down.

The Detroit Lions running back room has become clearly defined over the course of the preseason. We know, at this point, who is staying and who is going. There will be no game four heroics among this group that will save anyone. There is no hot undrafted rookie looking to make a last-minute play for a roster spot.

The gap between the players that will make the team and those that will not is vast. LeGarrette Blount, Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah and Nick Bellore are going to make the team. Dwayne Washington does not have a single preseason carry. Zach Zenner is averaging 2.1 yards per attempt on his opportunities to run the ball.

The Lions have had two good games running the ball, and one bad one statistically.  The statistics have been bolstered, however,  by the Lions playing their players who were going to make the team well after the other team had stopped. The Lions “good” games were fuelled by second-half surges.

For example, in the first half of the Buccaneers game Blount, Abdullah and Johnson combined on 12 carries for 33 yards. That is an average of 2.8 yards per carry. In the second half of that game, the same group had 10 more carries for 67 yards. They broke through the Bucs backups for 6.7 yards per rush to salvage their statistics.

Bellore’s conversion from part-time linebacker and special teams ace to part-time fullback and special teams ace has gone reasonably well. When the Lions need an extra blocker, Bellore has been able to get his job done. His special teams play was always the reason he was on the roster anyway.

The roles within the room are much less set in stone. Riddick will be the team’s passing-down specialist, but beyond that, we do not know anything for certain. Blount is a jackhammer, but he is not effective in short yardage. Johnson is very well rounded, but we don’t know if he can handle the workhorse role. Abdullah has let us down before after an impressive preseason.

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There is no mystery about who will stay in the Lions running back room after week four of the preseason. Washington and Zenner should see the majority of the team’s snaps in the fourth game. Even if they do manage a good game, however, it will serve as an audition for their next gig. They are done in Detroit. The Lions running back depth chart is set barring an injury.