Schwartz says RB Jahvid Best is in better shape now then when he was a rookie

Posted Oct 9, 2012

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz confirmed to reporters Tuesday that running back Jahvid Best is going through “some return-to-play protocol” this week.

Best, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in a Week 6 loss to the 49ers last year, is eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list as early as next Monday. He could be eligible to play Oct. 22 against the Bears if independent neurologists clear him for contact.

“Those aren’t done by the people here; those are done by independent neurologists and everybody else,” Schwartz said. “The only thing we can do is wait for their opinion on it.”

If those opinions fall in the Lions’ favor though, it doesn't appear Schwartz would have any reservations playing Best. Schwartz said his third-year running back is in the best shape he’s been in since joining the Lions via a first round draft selection in 2010.

“He’s done very, very well,” Schwartz said. “He’s in the best shape he’s been since he was a rookie. He’s in better shape now than when he was as a rookie. He’s physically stronger. He’s smarter in our schemes, done a really good job being at meetings and those kind of things. He’s more flexible than he’s been. He’s worked extremely hard.

“This isn’t a guy that’s been on vacation for the last couple months. This guy’s worked extremely hard. But we try not to get ahead of ourselves. He’s doing what he can. When he gets clearance he’ll be back.”

If Best does get his clearance, expect his presence to be immediately felt on the field.

“He’s a game-breaker, no doubt,” center Dominic Raiola said of Best. “He’s a homerun hitter and hopefully things go well with him and we look forward to crossing that bridge when it comes.”