Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions have had 12 different leading rushers in the 20 seasons since Barry Sanders retired. So as we weed through the options it goes without saying Barry is still the Lion King.
James Stewart, Kevin Jones, Reggie Bush are just a few names in a long list of running backs who tried to fill the large shoes worn by the last Detroit Lions player to wear number 20.
Flash forward to this past season. A season that saw a Lion running back given an huge honor. Kerryon Johnson, who was just named Lions Rookie of the Year. One thing Johnson played in just 10 games due to a knee injury.
Now fully recovered Kerryon Johnson is said to be ready for the 2019 NFL season. Still playing in only 10 games was a large enough sample size to see the Detroit Lions may finally have stability at a critical position.
Johnson was on pace for over a 1,000 yards rushing. 118 carries for 641 yards and 3 touchdowns are a good start to the young backs career. Kerryon averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
Those numbers allowed Barry Sanders to proclaim “I think he looks promising, I thought he handled himself well. I forgot how many games he played, but out of the rookie running backs he looked as good as any of them.”
Big words from a guy who by some did it better than anyone. The Hall of Famer Sanders, is the Detroit Lions benchmark for all running backs who come through the Motor City. The bar is set high fair or unfair.
It is easy for defenses playing against an offense when they do not have much of a running game. But a solid running game opens the offense up. Suddenly defenses have to play honest and not just blitz or sit back and wait for a pass.
The overall health of an offense is in running game. Always was and always will be. No matter the trends. It is still early. But Kerryon Johnson has the making of being the Detroit Lions running back since the great Barry Sanders. That is high praise.