NASHVILLE — Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure may have been the only bright spot during his team’s 44-41 overtime loss against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Leshoure made his NFL debut and rushed 26 times for 100 yards and one touchdown. He is the first Lions running back to rush for over 100 yards in a debut since Billy Sims ran for 153 yards against the Los Angeles Rams in 1980.
“We didn’t win,” Leshoure said. “That was the most important thing. That was the most important result we wanted, the win, and we didn’t get that. Things could have went better, obviously, but it felt good to be out there for the first time.
“It felt good to get my feet wet out there. I just got to go back, look at film, and correct some of my mistakes.”
Leshoure’s high amount of touches was mainly a result of Tennessee’s defense.
The Titans dropped players back into coverage all afternoon with hopes of not getting beat deep. As a result of the way teams are playing Detroit, the Lions are focusing more on running more this season.
“We didn’t see not one blitz, not one five-man pressure, not one snap of single-high (safety) the whole game,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “Two deep, drop seven, eight or nine the whole game. You want to be able to run the ball. We were able to do that early. We just have to be able to do a better job on third-down.
“It’s going to be the way teams are going to play us. We’re going to have to adjust and go out there, and you got to be great on third-down because they’re going to try to keep everything in front of you.”
Lions running back Kevin Smith has seemingly fallen to third on Detroit’s depth chart, behind Joique Bell and Leshoure. Smith did not have any carries against Tennessee on Sunday, and occasionally lined up at receiver.
Leshoure was a second-round pick in 2011, but his NFL career was derailed after tearing Achilles tendon in training camp. He was placed on injured reserve and did not play last season.
This season, Leshoure missed most of training camp after sustaining a hamstring injury. He appeared in Detroit’s third preseason game against Oakland, and the final game against Buffalo. Leshoure missed Detroit’s first two games this season against St. Louis and San Francisco due to his league suspension.
Leshoure was not utilized much in overtime against Tennessee, but the running back said he was not tired. Detroit went with Bell, who finished with five carries for 23 yards.
“He (Leshoure) had played a lot, and Joique, unfortunately, he dropped that one ball, but we had confidence in him being able to make plays, and he had made plays throughout the game,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “That was a long game. It was hot. We were just going with a fresher guy at that point.”