The only bright spot in the Lions' landscape going into the final three games of the season is rookie running back Kevin Jones.
After a slow start — in part because of training camp and early season injuries, in part because coach Steve Mariucci wanted to use a three-back rotation — Jones is giving the Lions their best running threat since Barry Sanders retired in 1999.
In the last two games, against Arizona and Green Bay, he has rushed for 196 and 156 yards. He has proved to be not only an elusive runner but a back capable of running with power.
In the game at Green Bay, he was literally the Lions' only consistent offensive threat.
"They were loading up the box, so he was running the ball against eight in the box sometimes, which is not easy," coach Steve Mariucci said. "He broke some tackles, and I thought he played well. This was his first cold (weather) game, and he played well."
Jones' numbers for the past five games are among the best in the NFL. In those games he has rushed for 632 yards on 109 attempts, an average of 5.8 yards per carry.
"It's not just a one-man Kevin Jones show," Mariucci said. "Yes, he's playing well and he's doing it for us ... and there's still an upside, he's going to get better as he keeps playing.
"But our offensive line is getting better, our tight ends and fullback add up into making our run game better. We've been stubborn with it. I was telling you all along we are going to make the run game go, one way or the other. We just felt it was a necessity to go forward."
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