(ALLEN PARK) -- After the Detroit Lions finished dead last in the NFL in rushing yardage last season, head coach Steve Mariucci knew they had to get better.
They did some draft-day wheeling and dealing to get Kevin Jones late in the first round, they put second-year back Artose Pinner on an offseason program to complete his comeback from a broken leg at the end of his senior season at Kentucky and they signed guard Damien Woody during free agency.
And now, four games into the season, the improvement is barely perceptible.
As the No. 32 rushing team in 2003, the Lions averaged 83.6 yards per game; this year they are averaging 87.25 yards per game, but Pinner gained 68 yards on 23 carries -- the most by a Lions back this season -- in the 17-10 victory Sunday at Atlanta. Mariucci says it is an indication of good things yet to come.
"We are going to get the running game going here," Mariucci said. "It's very important for our long term success, so we're going to remain stubborn with developing the run. I sense that is improving, I sense we're getting better at it.
"The better our run game gets, our play action and movement stuff will be better and more productive, the pass rush will calm down a little bit. It's in the developmental stages, but we're headed there."
Lions To Be "Stubborn" With Running Game
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Scout NFL Network08/24/2016