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Jason Huntley taking advantage of extra reps in practice

The Detroit Lions took part in a live scrimmage this past Saturday to help prepare them for the regular season opener, which is fast approaching (Sept. 13). There were a number of players who stood out in the scrimmage, including rookie running back Jason Huntley.

Huntley made plays both running the football and catching it out of the backfield in the live scrimmage.

It's the latter that really made Huntley stand out among this year's rookie class of running backs. He was the only back in the class with over 1,000 career receiving yards (1,119). That was on top of the 2,197 career rushing yards he amassed, 1,090 of those coming in his last season at New Mexico State in 2019.

The Lions selected Huntley in the fifth round of this year's NFL Draft. His speed (timed at 4.37 seconds in the 40 at his pro day) and elusiveness in the open field have stood out in camp, both as a runner and receiver.  

Huntley's out to prove he can be a weapon for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

"In this game right now at the running back position you have to be able to catch the ball, be able to split you out," Huntley said. "In that situation, when you got a linebacker trying to go one on one with me, knowing that I played a lot of wide receiver and caught a lot of balls, it helps us out. It shows that I'm versatile in situations and I can play this and that."

Huntley showed off that versatility in Detroit's weekend scrimmage. He showed off some power in a goal line touchdown run, elusive open-field running and his ability to be a pass catcher out of the backfield.

He's trying to earn a job in a Lions backfield that's currently pretty deep with veterans Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough and Jonathan Williams, second-year backs Ty Johnson and Wes Hills, and fellow rookie and second-round pick D’Andre Swift.

Of that group, Huntley is the most accomplished pass catcher coming into the NFL, though Kerryon, Ty and Swift have been good in that regard, too. 

The fact that Swift and Scarbrough have missed a lot of camp practices with undisclosed injuries has given Huntley more opportunities for meaningful reps, and he's taken advantage of the extra work.

The Lions are looking for a back to take on a third-down role after J.D. McKissic left for Washington in free agency. Huntley has certainly put himself into the conversation for not only a roster spot, but an early role.

"Just give me the opportunity to go out there and show what I can do whatever needs to be done for the team," Huntley said. "Whatever I have to do to help the team, I'm all for it."

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