LIONS INSIDER

Mikel Leshoure is confident that he's approaching his pre-injury form

Posted May 14, 2013

Leshoure, almost two years removed from his Achilles injury, says he made progress through every game last season and is now getting back to his old form

Mikel Leshoure missed his entire rookie season in 2011 after tearing his Achilles tendon early in training camp.
Mikel LeshoureRB Mikel Leshoure

Earlier this offseason, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz alluded to the fact that Leshoure might not have been 100 percent back to his old self after returning to the field Week 3 of last season ... only 13 months removed from such a devastating injury.

"He didn't have any explosive runs last year," Schwartz said at the NFL Combine in February when asked about Leshoure. "He battled through a rookie year, that's probably the best way to evaluate him.

"He flashed enough highs that gives us optimism that he can (be explosive), but he also had enough inconsistency to say that he's not there yet."

Technically, Leshoure is entering his third season in the NFL. However, he considers 2013 his sophomore campaign, and expects a big jump from year one to year two.

"I felt like I made progress each game and each week (last year)," Leshoure said of his 798-yard, nine-touchdown season in 2012.

"I do feel a little bit more burst now. I do feel like I’m getting stronger. The calf muscles are getting stronger and I’m just kind of getting back to where I used to be."

At Illinois, that was a running back with a rare combination of size, speed and quickness. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry on his way to 1,893 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior.

The constant knock on Leshoure last year was the lack of explosive runs. In fact, his longest carry was 16 yards. Granted, there are many moving parts that have to work together in order for explosive runs to happen. It isn’t solely on the running back, but he’s certainly part of the equation.

Leshoure is now almost two years removed from that Achilles injury and isn't spending the offseason rehabbing.

He also said he now knows what to expect in terms of wear and tear as a running back in the NFL. Those two factors have changed the way he's approached the offseason.

"(This offseason) is a little bit more about getting conditioned and physically ready and then mentally, too," he said. "When you feel confident mentally, you can go out there and play a lot faster."

With Leshoure confident he’s closer to pre-injury form, the Lions are hopeful they’ll be able to feature the backfield they envisioned in 2011 when they selected Leshoure in the second round.

At the time, the team had speedster Jahvid Best in the backfield, and was hoping to feature a thunder-and-lightning-type of backfield. Obviously, that never materialized because of Best's problems with concussions.

Now, with Reggie Bush added to equation, the Lions might once again have the right mix of parts to become a dual-threat offense.

"It’s always good to have that type of backfield where you have different guys," Leshoure said. "We have three guys who’ve played – Reggie, myself and Joique – who are all a little different. We all bring a little something different to the table.

"I think with our running backs coach (Curtis Modkins), where he’s come from, and the things he’s done (in the past) with his backs, this is perfect for him.

"I’m super excited. I feel like we have everything we need offensively. We have explosive players. We got younger. I’m excited and I’m ready to go."