LIONS INSIDER

Jahvid Best to be cleared for contact in June

Posted May 1, 2012

Lions running back Jahvid Best will be cleared for football contact in June, according to Lions general manager Martin Mayhew.

“He’s been doing everything in the offseason program and we expect he’ll be cleared sometime probably in June,” Mayhew told Mike O’Hara and Ken Brown on WJR Monday night. “We look forward to having him on the field.”

Best missed the last 11 games of the season (including the playoff game) after suffering his second concussion of the season Week 6 against the 49ers. Best has a history of concussions and the Lions have understandably been cautious with him through this process.

However, Best is expected to be a full participant in June’s mini-camp and for the start of training camp beginning at the end of July.

“Those doctors felt like it just made sense to do that in June,” Mayhew said. “It gives him the most time.

“We are not doing anything that involves any contact and he’s been cleared to do everything that we’re doing right now and he’ll be officially cleared for contact in June.”

Besides Best, the Lions have running backs Mikel Leshoure, Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Joique Bell under contract. They’ve also agreed to terms with Penn State running back Stephfon Greene on an undrafted free agent deal.

During the 20-minute interview with WJR, Mayhew also covered a number of other subjects:

On the rookie free agent signing period:

“Those situations you’re definitely looking to fill a spot, whereas in the draft, you’re trying to find young players for the future of the franchise. You want to find young players that can come in and help you, not only immediately, but as you build your team for the future.”

On trades and free agent signings over the next month:

“This is the time when you’re going to see some players get traded and see some players get released as teams have added talent at certain positions. They are going to start doing a count themselves, ‘Do we need to take these eight linebackers to camp when some of these guys aren’t going to make it.' So there will be some players released and there will be some movement over the next month or so.”

On Riley Reiff:

“He’s certainly a really good fit for us. He’s a guy that can eventually play left tackle for us and he can also play right tackle or guard. I think we’ll have a really tough time keeping him off the field next year.”

On Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure:

“We have very high expectations for both of those guys. When Nick was healthy last year he really flashed some things that we hoped to see. The key for both of those guys is getting healthy, staying focused, being pros 100 percent of the time, but both of those guys have great talent and no question they are both good picks and we still have very high expectations for them.”

On Fairley and Ndamukong Suh playing together more this season:

“They can definitely play side-by-side. We have a really deep group there with Sammie Hill and Corey Williams and we’re really trying to find the right mix. We rotate those guys through and I think it will be great to have an offseason with all of those guys we had there last year. I think that’s going to help us find the right mix and right rotation. Who starts? Who’s playing more on third down? Which group is playing together? I think all of that will kind of fall throughout this offseason.”

On viewing receiver as a need in the draft:

“What we have to do as an organization is look at our needs a little bit differently. It’s not just about not having a starter at a position so if we need that we better take that as soon as possible. You have to look at it in terms of the whole team and the whole organization. For example, if you look at our receiver position, we only had three receivers coming back from last year. We’ll probably need five or six. We play a lot of three-receiver sets. So we came into the draft thinking at some point it would make sense to try and get one receiver, possibly two. That was a need, even though it wasn’t recognized as a need by a lot of people. We came into it with that opinion.”