When their quarterback is healthy, it is evident that the Detroit Lions can move the football through the air. The team hopes that the return of running back Kevin Jones will bode the same for a struggling ground-game.
Jones hasn't played since Dec. 10 at Minnesota, when he suffered a Lisfranc injury -- a tearing of the tissues that connect the bones in the middle of the foot. He had surgery a few days later, and has rehabbed since.
He just started practicing two weeks ago, but if he's healthy, he will bring some much-needed speed and power -- even if it's only 15-20 snaps a game to start.
On Wednesday, he again demonstrated some explosiveness that has the Detroit staff cautiously optimistic.
"You know, he moved around good," said head coach Rod Marinelli. "It's not pads or anything, but he seemed not to have any problems. It's the day after (we'll find out), but he was cutting pretty violently today and running pretty hard today."
The Lions finished last in the NFL in rushing last year, even though they had Jones most of the season. But the Lions feel it wasn't Jones' fault. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz loves to throw in the first place, the offensive line was a mess and the Lions played from behind often.
Through two games, the Lions rank 26th in rushing at 82 yards per game. They have shown an ability to pop a good run with Tatum Bell and Brian Calhoun from time to time, but they haven't shown they can gain four, five or six yards consistently.
They have also been hurt by the absence of T.J. Duckett (mild high ankle sprain), who was expected to serve as the team's short-yardage, red-zone specialist. He missed week two, and could also miss Sunday's contest in Philly.
Marinelli wasn't prepared to accept any excuses, however.
"I don't accept it," coach Rod Marinelli said. "We still want to run it better. That's something we want to do. We attempted it at times and didn't get it done."