Best's Role in Detroit? To Be Determined

Detroit's rookie running back certainly has the excitement, but does he have a role? More from training camp inside ...

In the team's first two-a-day practice on Sunday, rookie running back Jahvid Best demonstrated the same quick step and explosive appeal that has excited everyone about his potential in the NFL.

But before anyone forecasts any LaDainian Tomlinson type numbers, that isn't the role he'll fill in Detroit.

Primarily because the team hasn't actually defined it yet.

"We're trying to find how to best fit him into the offense but he still has a long way to go as a rookie," cautioned coach Jim Schwartz following Sunday's morning session.

The Lions pulled on the shoulder pads during the afternoon practice, but it still consisted of light bumps and grabs from teammates; Best isn't running through the arms of any would-be tacklers.

And since the players are still essentially practicing in little more than pajamas at this point, it's difficult to gauge exactly how buoyant any one individual is.

"Let's remember, he hasn't gained a yard yet," said Schwartz. "This is practice -- he's looked good in what he's done."

Best is expected to be used on third-downs because of his pass catching skills and open field ability. He has already made himself available as a safety valve for the quarterbacks in camp, and could be dangerous on a screen.

However, he's also still digesting a playbook that's as foreign to him and he is to it.

Schwartz did confirm the team would look to avoid having an 'every-down' running back in 2010, citing his experience with former NFL'er Eddie George, whose career was curtailed due to injuries and the abusive toll on his legs.

The Lions will split running duties among each of its ball carriers, in all likelihood the bulk of the load being shared between Best and Kevin Smith.

Smith, who is still recovering from an ACL injury, practiced with the team today. Schwartz has been pleased with the third-year running back's progress, but was looking to "temper" the enthusiasm.

"He's still eight months off of a major knee injury so I don't know," said Schwartz. "We'll get him into the season before we say ‘ahead.' I mean, I'm happy that he's out practicing, we're still trying to be smart with him ... but we've been very pleased with him."

NOTES: The Lions will continue two-a-days beginning on Monday morning. Safety Louis Delmas, DE Jared DeVries, TE Will Heller, S Ko Simpson and CB Jack Williams were listed on the team's Physically-Unable-To-Perform (PUP) list; Delmas and DeVries' absences aren't expected to be lengthy. Detroit will host a crew of three NFL officials to help referee practices between August 5 and 7. The team had no official update on contract negotiations with second overall pick Ndamukong Suh.


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