LIONS INSIDER

Mikel Leshoure taking full advantage of extra practice reps

Posted May 25, 2014

Mikel Leshoure, a former second-round pick by the Lions in 2011, is getting a clean slate with the new coaching staff and maintains he can still make plays.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew was asked about the possibility of trading running back Mikel Leshoure back in March at the Annual NFL Meetings.

“I haven’t had an interest in trading Mikel,” Mayhew told beat writers over lunch. “I want to see him come in and perform and be the player he can be.”

Challenge on.

Leshoure admits his frustration level reached supreme heights last year and he thought about playing elsewhere.

Coming off a 2012 season where he rushed 215 times for nine touchdowns and 798 yards, just a year removed from a torn Achilles tendon, Leshoure was relegated to just two carries in three games last year.

He was inactive for 13 games. He lost his role in the offense to Joique Bell and lost his spot on the active game-day roster to rookie Theo Riddick.

“Last year was a tough year for me,” Leshoure told detroitlions.com. “If I can say one guy was in my corner, I would say it was Martin (Mayhew). I’m not saying no one else wasn’t, but if I can say one guy was, Martin was.

Mikel LeshoureRB Mikel Leshoure (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“So to hear he wants me to stick around and he has a role for me, it feels good to hear that, because at one point last year, I didn’t know what was going on, if I would be here or if I would play or what.”

Mayhew obviously wants to see Leshoure succeed here in Detroit and saw a a possible role for him back in March with the new offense being implemented. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has come over from New Orleans and taken a lot of elements from that offense with him.

One of things that sticks out about the Saints offense is the way they rotate running backs and have multiple backs with different roles. Four running backs had at least 53 carries in the Saints offense last year.

“Guys that make plays will get carries,” Mayhew said. “You can go back to New Orleans’ offense, which is what encouraged me about Joe (Lombardi). Pierre Thomas had a role. (Darren) Sproles had a role. Mark Ingram had a role. At one point Chris Ivory had a role when he was down there with them. They found a way to utilize guys who could make plays.”

It was one of the first things Leshoure noticed after Lombardi got hired, too.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “They have a rotation of running backs and I got very excited hearing he was the offensive coordinator, just knowing that I would most likely get a chance to play. Whatever role it was, just being able to play.”

Leshoure, a former second-round pick by the Lions in 2011, is getting a clean slate with this new coaching staff and maintains he can still make plays.

One positive for him this spring has been the increased reps he’s been getting with Bell rehabbing a knee injury. Bell has yet to take part in the offseason training program or OTAs. That means the new coaches have gotten an extended look at Leshoure.

“I’m taking full advantage of it,” Leshoure said. “Right now coach is giving me the opportunity to get more carries. Theo is getting a few more reps, too, and we’re here to take full advantage of it.

“We weren’t out there a lot last year, so to get our opportunities, whether it’s OTAs or minicamp, training camp or whatever it is, you have to take advantage of it.”

Leshoure is entering the last year of his rookie deal.

He wants more than anything to prove moving back up into the second round of the 2011 Draft wasn’t a mistake and thinks he has an opportunity to do that in this offense.

“A lot of this offense reminds me of college (Illinois),” he said. “We have a lot of down hill runs. There’s a lot of one-cut runs and outside zones. We still have our inside OP runs, which I love, and we have a lot of stuff with the fullback in there. That’s what I come from with a fullback at Illinois.”

Leshoure's much more comfortable in this offense. It’s “hitting home” for him and more his style of running.

We’ll see if he can recapture the promise Mayhew and the Lions saw in him in 2011 in a new system.