ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are getting key contributions from players they’ve drafted the last two years.
Second-year pros Mikel Leshoure and Titus Young, along with rookies Ryan Broyles and Riley Reiff have helped Detroit (4-4) win three of its last four games to bounce back from a rough start this season.
“Those guys have taken advantage of the opportunity, that’s what this league is about,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday. “When you get an opportunity, you need to prove it. There’s a lot of circumstances, whether it’s injuries or whatever, that you get your chance to get on the field. “
Leshoure has made the biggest impact, giving the team a desperately needed power running back to help the pass-happy offense strike a balance. He became the franchise’s first player since 1934 to run for three touchdowns in a half in last week’s 31-14 win at Jacksonville and has run for 375 yards in six games since being suspended for the first two weeks of the season.
Leshoure said violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy last summer and becoming a first-time father last week have helped him grow up fast.
“I learned a lot from my situation in the offseason, it made me a better man,” he said. “And having a son, it has made me an even better man. I’ve learned to be smart by understanding my surroundings and to put myself in good situations that I don’t have to second-guess.”
Leshoure’s play has gotten the attention of the slumping Minnesota Vikings (5-4) and their defensive-minded head coach Leslie Frazier.
“He’s running with authority,” Frazier said. “He’s really making people miss at times. He’s able to run through contact. He’s really given them something in the backfield. He’s an elusive runner with some power.”