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Lions' message to Scarbrough: 'Just be Bo'

Just be Bo.

That's the message the Detroit Lions' coaching staff has sent to running back Bo Scarbrough as part of the process that has made him a large part of the offense's running game in a short period of time.

Scarbrough has taken the message and run with it.

While the message is short - "Just be Bo" - a lot of hard work on and off the field has gone into fitting Scarbrough into the offense since he was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 6.

Running backs coach Kyle Caskey, a veteran NFL assistant who played fullback at Texas A&M, used the internet to refresh his memory of what he first learned of Scarbrough from watching him at Alabama.

Scarbrough was a productive, 235-pound power runner for three seasons (2015-17) with the Crimson Tide.

"When we first brought him in, I went on YouTube and pulled up some highlights," Caskey said this week. "I wanted to remind myself of what he was. I remember him coming out – a big back. I wanted to remind myself, 'What was this guy? What did he do well? How can we bring that back to the surface?'"

In their early meetings, Caskey said he told Scarbrough to remember the player he was at Alabama and be that player with the Lions. It was nothing complicated. It boiled down to telling him to be himself.

"Sometimes, it's just as simple as saying, 'Bo, just run; just be Bo,'" Caskey said.

"Right now, I think he needs to hear that – just telling him, 'Remember the feeling you had when you ran in the national championship games and the playoff games. Be that guy.'"

Before coming to the Lions, Scarbrough had never played in an NFL regular-season game since being drafted by the Cowboys in the seventh round in 2018.

Scarbrough was promoted to the active roster on Saturday, Nov. 16 and started the next day against Dallas – just 11 days after being signed to the practice squad.

He carried the ball for a two-yard gain on the Lions' first play of the game, and he finished off the five-play possession with a five-yard blast through the line for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Scarbrough was off and running, with more to come. He had 14 carries for 55 yards against Dallas and followed it with two more solid performances – 18 carries for 98 yards against the Redskins, and 21 carries for 83 yards against the Bears on Thanksgiving Day.

Scarbrough has 53 carries for 236 yards through the first three games, with a 4.5-yard average per carry.

It was a rapid rise – from practice squad to the Lions' starting running back.

"I would say that's a little rare," Caskey said. "Especially for a guy who hasn't been a part of our system. He's put the time and effort in.

"He's really a smart guy. At this point, we're trying to progress him as much as we can so we can have him in all situations. We don't want him to be just the guy who's in there to run the ball. We want him to be able to do the other stuff, too.

Caskey thinks Scarbrough is more than a one-game or one-month wonder.

"I really do," he said. "If you look at the three games he's played in, there's consistency with what's he's doing. It's not like there's some big runs in there, and that's where the yardage is coming from.

"Really, with what he's doing the protections we're asking him to do, there's a lot of things that he's progressed on in the last few weeks.

"He's a dynamic player. We ask him to be the lead runner at times. It depends on the situation and the kind of team we're about to play so we can exploit his athleticism.

"The guy's got a lot of it."

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