Coordinator Cut-Up: Linehan expects Leshoure to be heavily involved in Sunday's game plan

Posted Sep 18, 2012

The Lions will get Mikel Leshoure back from suspension this week and Linehan is hoping the second-year running back can give the ground attack a shot in the arm.

Help is on the way for the Lions rushing attack and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan couldn’t be happier.

The Lions will get Mikel Leshoure back from suspension this week and Linehan is hoping the second-year running back can give the ground attack a shot in the arm.

"People are pretty keyed into our passing game right now, playing man-under, safeties back, make you have to really work to earn to get guys open,” Linehan said. 

“It’s not so hard to figure out that if you can crease out some runs the way Mikel did in the Buffalo preseason game or even when he made some fabulous one-yard runs in the Oakland game, that can be a pretty good way to go if that’s the way people are defending us."

The Lions still have to determine where Leshoure is at physically after two weeks without practice. He was working at the facility with trainers during his suspension, but wasn’t allowed to practice, which is a whole different kind of tempo.

“He hasn’t really played in a real game since he was in college where he had to play four quarters,” Linehan said. “It will be fun to see him get back out there and be the fresh legs guy in the group and we’ll go.”

Linehan said he expects Leshoure to be involved heavily in the game plan for Titans this week. Through their first two games, Tennessee (0-2) is allowing 155 yards per game on the ground and ranks 30th in the league against the run.

“We’ll see how much he’s ready to go in this game but he’ll certainly be involved heavily in the game plan and we’ll go from there,” Linehan said. “We’ve always felt like he was going to be a big boost for us once he came back in the lineup."

Linehan also spoke to on a number of other topics:

On Sunday’s game plan to come out running vs. the 49ers defense:

"I think as far as sticking with it that was good. I think we were close to 50 percent as far as our balance. I think there was 26 runs in 60 plays. That doesn’t necessarily translate into a win.

"Balance isn’t necessarily going to be the difference, points are what matters. But I think the idea was: we were not going to let them talk us out of that. I think there was more than we got out of it but I think it was effective as the game went on. Obviously early in the game not much, as the game went on there started to become more error and more room in there and we started hitting our stride a little bit more."

On how good the 49ers defense is:

“It’s the best tackling team I’ve seen in recent memory. I don’t know how many rushing touchdowns they’ve given up in the last two seasons. I think they went like 14 games last year without giving up one. So, I mean, you have to be pretty darn good across the board to do that.

"We give credit where credit is due but I thought we had a good plan against the run. I think as the game wore on, if that game was longer, I think eventually we would have come away with it.”

On the play of his offensive line and some individual match-ups:

“I thought they played very well. I think our front has had two solid games in a row. They’re playing very well together as a unit, which is important. They’ve been together now as a unit going on their third season, a lot of the guys have been together for more than that. I thought for two games in a row now, we’ve played some pretty good people up front and have played well."

On receiver Titus Young not being a factor so far this season:

“It’s like anything else. It’s a long season. Guys have fast starts, guys have slower starts. You just have to keep playing each game and as the season goes on…obviously Titus got better and better for us last year.

"A little bit was his issue with his hamstring last year, though I’m not making excuses for him, but it doesn’t help that you’re not able to go every practice of training camp and miss reps in practice, things like that."

On receiver Ryan Broyles being active but not getting into game:

“We weren’t sure if Broyles was going to be available at the start of the week, so you don’t plan a lot. I don’t talk in terms of percentages where guys are but he’s getting there.

"He’s not there yet but he’s getting closer and you can see that in preseason.  We had a lot of three- and four-wide type packages and we couldn’t be in a position where, if someone had an injury in that game that we were out of it. That’s one of the reasons he was active this game."

On what he liked most about the offensive performance Sunday:

"I thought we stuck with the game plan. We certainly could have come up with more points. That’s the kind of game where you get in a field goal game with a team like that, it’s kind of tough to beat them. We needed one more touchdown, maybe two.

"Obviously you want to score a touchdown every time you get it but we needed at least one more touchdown in that situation there." 

"But our guys never waivered from the game plan, they stuck with it and I thought that became very apparent how we played in the second half scoring on all three drives. We scored a couple field goals and a touchdown on our only three drives in the second half so that showed that it was going to pay off in the end. If we eliminate one mistake here, if we don’t have a turnover, we get one more, we get a seven instead of three, it’s a different game."

On what he was most disappointing about the offensive performance Sunday:

"Not producing at least one, maybe two, touchdown drives when we got down. Didn’t quite get to the red zone, we kind of stalled just before we got there. We’re one of the best red zone teams in the league. We have to be able to get ourselves in that position and produce a score.

"We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Green Bay found that out a week before we played them. It didn’t look much different. We had a very good plan. Our guys executed good. We needed to execute great on the road against that team to win."

On quarterback Matthew Stafford’s performance so far:

"Matthew’s just playing okay right now. I don’t he’s hit his stride yet. He’ll probably be the first person to tell you that. There’s some other pretty marquee names around the league right now that probably aren’t playing their A-game. Matt will continue to get better. He played exactly within the game plan though. If you take away his interception, which was a slip … he was trying to pull it back. 

"You have to really earn it with that defense. You may not look like an A-player every time you play that team. He played within the game plan and was executing how we wanted. Other than a couple bad plays, I thought he was doing a nice job. We just have to get to where we’re working on some little things, some ball placement things that have to get better and he will. That will come as we go through."