DETROIT -- He's barely been active this year, he doesn't seem to fit the offense and he's been passed over three times on the depth chart, but offensive coordinator Scott Linehan insists Mikel Leshoure still has a bright future -- maybe even with the Lions.
"Everything's in front of him," Linehan said Friday. "Like a lot of backs, had a lot of carries in college, missed his first year cause of injury, so he's going to have years in front of him that are going to be good years because he's not going to have a lot of miles on his tires over the last three years. So he's got a very bright future in front of him, he just needs the opportunities."
Leshoure, the Lions' leading rusher with 798 yards last fall, has carried two times for 9 yards this season and been active in only three games.
The Lions signed Reggie Bush in free agency to start at running back and drafted backup Theo Riddick in the sixth round, and Joique Bell surged to No. 2 on the depth chart with a strong exhibition season that's carried into December.
General manager Martin Mayhew told Leshoure he had no plans to deal him before October's trade deadline, but it's not like Mayhew was turning away suitors.
Leshoure, a second-round pick in 2011, tore his Achilles tendon as a rookie and hasn't had much opportunity to showcase his skills since.
He scored nine rushing touchdowns last year, but lacked a second gear coming off surgery. This year, he's languished on the bench.
Linehan praised Leshoure for working diligently while waiting for his opportunity, but with Bush and Riddick under contract for next year, Montell Owens expected back from injured reserve and Bell a restricted free agent, there's no reason to believe Leshoure's role will change if he returns for another season in the same offense.
"I can't answer (if he'll get opportunities in Detroit) right now," Linehan said. "But we're one tweaked ankle or whatever away from him being ready to go. So right now he's not in the mix as far as playing as much as I'm sure he'd like to or as much as you would like to play all your backs, but I think in the future he should be an asset for us in the backfield and only time will tell."
(c)2013 Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services