(Allen Park) – Last season, a 1-15 Lions' team hosted the Dallas Cowboys in what would be the team's last contest at the Pontiac Silverdome. Running back Aveion Cason, who had joined the team a month earlier, showed a spark of talent, using great speed that is little known to both fans and critics.
Cason carried the ball five times for 19 yards in addition to four receptions for 32 yards against Dallas.
"My 40 time is a 4.25," said Cason. So when asked if he was around the same speed as new Lion receiver and recognized speedster Az Zahir Hakim, Cason's response was candid: "Yeah, I'm about with him."
But speed alone doesn't necessarily equal production -- although the Lions are trying to figure out a way to use Cason and maximize his running skills. Occasionally, they have lined him up as a wide receiver.
"It is just basically trying to get me one on one with somebody," said Cason, "With me playing receiver at St. Louis it is working to my advantage."
Cason was originally signed by the St. Louis Rams as a rookie free agent out of Illinois State, and then was released during the season. There was questions regarding how Cason handled the ball, something Rams' head coach Mike Martz demands. Cason later signed with the Lions in mid November to add depth to the running back spot last season. Since this is Cason's second year with the Lions, he has familiarized himself with the West Coast offense.
"I think it is going to work to my advantage (knowing the offense better), and just learning from the other guys." Cason said.
Cason has high goals for himself as well: "I expect myself to try to be a great back and try to lead other guys on the team and come behind James Stewart and whomever I have to come after."
Cason is in a battle with a number of other running backs for the back up running back spot behind incumbent starter James Stewart. There has been some talk that the Lions will keep four running backs on their 53-man roster, instead of the normal three teams usually keep.
The following running five running backs are battling for two or three spots on the 2002 Detroit Lions roster:
Aveion Cason, 5-10 204
Luke Staley, 6-1 227
Lamont Warren, 5-11 211
James Mungro, 5-9 214
Jonas Lewis, 5-9 210