Lions Eager To Correct Running Woes

Team is third-to-last in rushing offense, and will turn to trio of backs against Cowboys. Notes and quotes inside ...

Detroit's run game struggles in 2010 have been well-documented.

The team didn't muster much against the Jets' top-flight rush defense two weeks ago, but the slump continued at league doormat, Buffalo, last Sunday. The Lions managed just 76 yards in the loss. Rookie running back Jahvid Best, still hampered by a stubborn turf toe injury, averaged just 2.1 yards per carry.

Best has missed a handful of practices this week, but is scheduled to play in Sunday's road contest at Dallas.

The team's offensive line is shouldering some of the blame for a run offense that ranks third-to-last in the league. Lanes have been few and far between, and collective failures have turned Detroit's once promising offense one-dimensional. To their credit, Detroit's passing offense has helped picked up the slack, a band-aid the team knows isn't a long-term solution.

"It falls on all of us; I think generally people talk about the line blocking or the runner or the scheme or whatever it is," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Friday. "We're going to keep fighting out there, keep grinding, and find a way to get the run game where we want it."

Against Dallas, they'll also be without the services of running back Kevin Smith (thumb), forcing the coaching staff to activate little used, third-string running back Aaron Brown this weekend. Brown is cut from the same cloth as Best, a scat back that provides speed out of the backfield, but not much else.

The Lions will also employ veteran Maurice Morris, hoping that the trio is able to find some ground success.

"We're searching for a solution, certainly," Linehan admitted. "It hasn't been what we want. We've adjusted in our passing game to make up for it. A lot of our passing game has been to be efficient, so that replaces some of the run game. I'd really like to see guys go out there and the biggest thing is we want to eliminate the lost yardage plays.

"It's hard to get your confidence and a rhythm in the run game if you lose yards, so what I want to see the guys do, whether it be Jahvid (Best) or (Maurice Morris) ... show that they can be very efficient with the run game. We have not had the explosive plays but we're looking forward to getting that big hit or those two big hits in the run game to give us that production. Until we do that we're going to continue to look for solutions."

The Lions still believe Best can be that big play running back, the prophecized 'homerun hitter' they drafted in April.

"He's not even close to his potential right now," coach Jim Schwartz said. "You saw him in preseason and you saw him early in the season. He obviously hasn't been full speed. It's something that he's had to deal with and it's something that you need to work through during the week to get to Sunday and get to Sunday feeling well. But I think he's basically scratched the surface of where he can be."

Injury Report: Defensive end Cliff Avril, kicker Jason Hanson, running back Kevin Smith and quarterback Matthew Stafford will not play Sunday. Tight end Tony Scheffler is questionable.

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