The Prophet: Jones named starter

Kevin Jones claimed all along that he would become the team's No. 1 running back once healthy. After extensive rehabilitation, including a brief stay in an Asian man's basement, Jones has become ... well ... a prophet, after he was named the starter for Sunday's tilt with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Kevin Jones claimed all along that he would become the team's No. 1 running back once healthy.

After extensive rehabilitation, including a brief stay in an Asian man's basement, Jones has become ... well ... a prophet, after he was named the starter for Sunday's tilt with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Lions have given Jones the bulk of the reps during practice this week, and his injured foot has responded well. Detroit hopes Jones' return will improve a stagnant running attack that has left the team one-dimensional and subject to a blowout.

Coach Rod Marinelli said Wednesday that Jones had reclaimed his spot as the Lions' No. 1 running back, three games into his return from a serious foot injury. Tatum Bell is No. 2. Then there is T.J. Duckett, who is ready to return from a high-ankle sprain.

In the Lions' last game, Oct. 7 at Washington, Jones didn't touch the ball in the first half. But he had 11 carries for 48 yards and two catches for 17 yards in the second half.

"We've got a chance to have that whole group, finally," Marinelli said.

Jones suffered a Lisfranc injury trying to score a touchdown Dec. 10 against Minnesota -- the injury involved a tearing of the tissues that connect the bones in the middle of the foot. In surgery three days later, three pins were inserted into the foot. One pin still remains.

The Lions acquired Bell from Denver, where he was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2006, and signed Duckett as a free agent to provide insurance at the position. Jones insisted all along he would be the guy when healthy. He rehabbed hard using traditional methods, and he even sought a non-traditional heat acupuncture treatment in an Asian man's basement.

From early in the offseason though Sept. 1, the question was whether the Lions would keep Jones on the physically-unable-to-perform list or put him on the active roster to start the season. Numerous reports said they would keep Jones on the PUP list, which would have kept Jones out for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

But the Lions put him on the active roster, and Jones returned in the Lions' third game, Sept. 23 at Philadelphia, his hometown. He scored a touchdown on his first NFL carry at Lincoln Financial Field, the stadium his father, Thomas, helped build as part of the construction crew.

Jones was unhappy with his lack of carries against the Redskins, which may have helped inspire the Lions decision to name him starter.

"I don't agree with that," Jones said at the time. "I think I need to be in there consistently getting touches so I can get into the rhythm of the game."

Jones said he wasn't 100 percent yet, but added: "I'm good enough to play and good enough to get the ball." Talking about how he played in the second half, Jones said: "Hopefully that shows them that I can go."

It did.

Bell requested a trade through his agent in the following days, knowing his role would be reduced. The Lions denied the request because they still need insurance for Jones, who still experiences soreness after games. The Lions need to manage Jones' pain.

But Jones is much farther ahead than he would have been otherwise. Had the Lions kept Jones on the PUP list, he just now would be eligible to practice with the team and play. He likely would not have been in good enough shape to play Sunday against the Buccaneers.

"We were lucky, I think," Marinelli said.

SERIES HISTORY: 51st meeting. Lions lead series, 26-24. The former NFC Central rivals have played only once since 2002, but it was a memorable game. The Lions lost, 17-13, after a touchdown by tight end Marcus Pollard was overturned in the final seconds.


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