2014 Combine

NOTEBOOK: Leshoure could have a role, Fuller in mix and TE’s go fast at Combine

Posted Feb 22, 2014

New offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi could find a role for Mikel Leshoure, the Saints had four running backs carry the ball at least 50 times in 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mikel Leshoure might still have a place in the Detroit Lions backfield.

Mikel LeshoureRB Mikel Leshoure (Photo: AP Images)

The Lions have a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi, who says he’s bringing the New Orleans Saints playbook to Detroit. If that’s the case, there certainty could be room for the former second-round pick to make more of an impact in 2014.

The Saints had four running backs rush the football at least 53 times last season. Pierre Thomas (147), Mark Ingram (78), Khirby Robinson (54) and Darren Sproles (53) all shared the load.

The Lions could potentially feature the same kind of attack with Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Theo Riddick and Leshoure.

“Our system last year was really a two-back system,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday. “Whether (Leshoure) was up or Theo was up, if Joique and Reggie were healthy, they were going to get the bulk of the carries.

“If you go back and look at what the Saints did, they used multiple backs in a lot of different ways. I’m encouraged about that for Mikel and it could bode well for him in terms of getting more playing time and having a more specific, defined role in our offense. I’m encouraged by that for him and look forward to seeing him when he gets back.”

There’s been some speculation the Lions could trade Leshoure, which could always happen, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of value for him outside of what the Lions could potentially get in a new offensive system.

“We have four backs that, really five backs (including Montell Owens), that are quality players, that are good players,” Mayhew said. “I think we’re going to be at pretty decent shape at running back assuming we can stay healthy.”

FULLER IN THE MIX?

All this talk about the Lions needing a receiver, we shouldn’t forget that former six-round pick Corey Fuller will get a shot to prove he’s more than just a developmental practice-squad player.

When the Lions drafted Fuller last year they knew he was going to be a project.

“Corey’s got size, he’s got speed. He was a guy that was a track guy that came to football late,” Mayhew said. “He’s really, I think, improved since we’ve had him. His big thing is a need to get stronger in the weight room. I think he’s worked very hard at that. I think another year in the offseason program’s really going to benefit him quite a bit, so I’m looking forward to seeing him.

“We’re looking for guys like that that can run and get down the field and make plays down the field."

Fuller spent the entire 2013 season on the practice squad gaining muscle, learning how to play lower and running more precise routes.

He'll have the benefit of a fresh start and a clean slate under new head coach Jim Caldwell, Lombardi and new wide receivers coach Robert Prince.

“I think he’ll start in with everybody else and have a chance to be a good player for us,” Mayhew said. “You know, it’s hard to find guys that are 6-2 that run 4.39. He’s one of those kinds of guys, so I’m excited about seeing him work.”

EBRON IMPRESSIVE

The top tight end in this year’s draft, Eric Ebron, told reporters at the Combine on Friday he tailors his game around San Francisco Pro Bowler Vernon Davis.

Davis set the standard for speed from the tight end position at the 2006 Combine when he ran 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Ebron didn’t go that low during his on-field workouts Saturday, but he was still impressive, nonetheless.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Ebron ran 4.5 seconds flat on both his unofficial 40-yard dash attempts. He was officially clocked at 4.60.

Ebron caught 62 passes for 973 yards (15.7 average) last season at North Carolina.

The fastes 40 time by a tight end at this year’s Combine went to A.C. Leonard (6-2, 252) of Tennessee State, who ran a 4.43 unoffocial, is credited with a 4.5 officially.