Twentyman: Does news surrounding Mikel Leshoure change the Lions' plans at running back?

Posted Apr 2, 2012

Does Monday's news surrounding running back Mikel Leshoure's second Marijuana charge change the Lions' plans for the running back position this fall?

Don't count on it.

The Lions should still expect a healthy Leshoure to be a contributor in 2012 after missing his rookie season with a torn Achilles tendon.

The team was already keeping its options open in terms of adding another young running back to the roster via the draft, because of the talent in this year's running back class.

"We're always looking for productive guys," Mayhew said in an interview with Sirius NFL Radio at the NFL league meetings last week.

"Who knows? Where we're picking now, later in those rounds -- later in the third, later in the fourth, later in the fifth -- we may be looking at a really good back. And as you probably have noticed, backs have really been devalued in the NFL. The free agent backs this year aren't getting very much play. There could be some guys that slip that are really talented, so we just want to be ready for that."

The Lions hosted Oregon running back LaMichael James for a pre-draft visit last month.

Leshoure's legal troubles certainly raise some eyebrows within the Lions' organization, but it's not cause for wholesale panic ... yet. Two Marijuana charges in less than a month is a red flag, but the Lions aren't going to just cut their losses on a second-round pick.

Leshoure has been at the Lions' training facility in Allen Park rehabbing this offseason and is expected to be 100-percent healthy by the beginning of the season.

"I never put timetables on these things but I would be surprised if he wasn't ready before (training camp)," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said at the league meetings.

It's unclear if Leshoure will face any discipline from the NFL. Usually, the league waits until the legal process plays out before making any decisions.

According to the 2011 league policy for players, a player's status within the substance-abuse policy is confidential, but it is possible Leshoure's first citation entered him into the program as a "Stage One" violator. The second citation could make him a "Stage Two" violator, which comes with a four-game suspension.

Again, due to the confidential nature of the substance-abuse program, its unknown if the first citation resulted in him being admitted.

Discipline aside, Leshoure now has to deal with character issues, not unlike some draft prospects like Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) and Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) are facing.

"Every year I talk to you guys about different red flags, medical, off-the-field, there's all kinds of red flags," NFL analyst Mike Mayock said at February's NFL Scouting combine. "What is always interesting to me is how different teams treat those red flags. There's no one uniform way to deal with a kid off the field."

At least the Lions benefit from having already spent a year around Leshoure.

While it's certainly unfortunate he's in the news for the wrong reasons, Leshoure should still have opportunities moving forward to be in the news for the right reasons.

That is if he makes the necessary changes to his personal life.