(ALLEN PARK, MI) -- They're saying the Detroit Lions have no running game. They're saying Lions running back James Stewart can't hit the hole. They're saying he's too slow. They say the line can't run block.
James Stewart says, 'just give him the darn ball.'
"When you're not getting the amount of carries, then they see you're not being effective in certain areas [of the running game], they tend to think 'OK, the running game is not being effective.' But you have to get the "touches."
"Any running back in the league will tell you that you have to have the 'touches'-- the amount of carries -- so that you can have more chances to make big plays. Unfortunately, we just haven't been in that situation. I think people just kind of look at us being stopped on third down last week twice, they look at that and take that all into account and think 'OK, we can't run the ball.'
"If you look at it, if I don't get my one run called back that's still 11 carries for almost 80 yards. So all you can do is keep pushing and keep working hard."
Lions fullback Cory Schlesinger agrees.
"A few years ago, Barry Sanders carried the ball 12 times and he had about 30 yards. You've just got to continue running the ball," the fullback said. "It's not all the running backs either. It's not the line. It's not the receivers, it's all of us together because if one person doesn't do an assignment right the plays not going to work. So you can't really pinpoint the runnning back and say 'It's you guys' ..and [conclude] our running game is not good."
Schlesinger admitted that he missed an assignment in short yardage that cost the Lions a first down last week because of trying to do "too much."
He pledged that that would never happen again.
The statistics bear out Stewart and Schlesinger's remarks. A look atop the leading rushers in the NFL reveals that Priest Holmes (4.6), LaDanian Tomlinson (4.7), Ricky Williams (4.4), Deuce McAlister (4.4) and Ahman Green (4.6) all sport similar per carry averages to Stewart (4.6).
The main difference appears to be the amount of carries. All those backs have over 100 carries, while Stewart has only 54 'touches.' Don't people see that you can't have 500 rushing if you only carry the ball 50 times?
"Some people don't realize that. They look at it the way they want to look at it, so you just have to keep on pushing," Stewart said.
Still, despite the criticism from some in the media, Stewart doesn't let that affect his approach to the game or his feeling about the west coast offense. Instead, he intends to keep working hard to prove all the doubters wrong.
"People are going to have their opinions and all you can do is keep working and try to make things happen."