Hold any applause for
Leshoure’s participation in training camp practice Wednesday can be considered little more than a warm-up. He did team calisthenics and position drills with the backs, and that was it – no work in any team drills.
It was a step forward but not a giant step for Leshoure, who hadn’t practiced since straining his right hamstring on July 28.
Leshoure will have to show a lot more in the next two weeks to give solid evidence that he can help the Lions’ running game.
Coach Jim Schwartz’s assessment of Leshoure’s performance was strictly a statement of where Leshoure stands.
“Being back in individual (drills) isn’t being back on the field yet,” Schwartz said. “Until he’s taking team reps, until he’s finishing down the field, he’s still limited participation.
“He’s been making good progress. He hasn’t come around as quickly as we’d hope. I wouldn’t read too much into it. We’ll see how it progresses and just take it day by day.
“He really hasn’t had any steps backwards. He just hasn’t had two steps forward. He’s been taking a half step forward.”
Half a step is better than none, but it has been a slow, agonizing exercise for the Lions to get a look at a player they drafted on the second round in 2011.
Leshoure’s rookie season ended early in training camp with a torn Achilles. He improved steadily through the offseason workouts and was on the active list for the start of training camp. He quickly hit another road black with the hamstring injury.
The Lions like what they’ve seen in Leshoure, but what they haven’t seen is him showing he can hold up under the rigors of performing in the NFL.
There’s frustration on Leshoure’s part, too.
“The hardest part of seeing the guys suit up, and I’m not with him,” he said Wednesday. “It felt good. My hamstring felt good. I’m trying to do a little more each day.”
With their second exhibition game in Baltimore Friday night, the Lions need some answers about the state of the two running backs they are hoping will carry the load.
The fact that Leshoure has been suspended by the NFL for the first two games adds urgency to having him healthy enough to practice and get playing time in the last two preseason games.
“The urgency for him to get on the field, to be able to do some things - that window is starting to narrow,” Schwartz said.
“He’s going to miss our first two games. We don’t have very much time before that to be able to get him game reps.”