NFL

Leshoure taking hold of running game

Alex Marvez previews the Packers-Lions matchup.
Alex Marvez previews the Packers-Lions matchup.
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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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ALLEN PARK, Mich.

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Should he ever become a household NFL name, Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure hopes his will finally be said properly.

"The correct pronunciation is Mike-ell Le-sure," Leshoure told FOXSports.com after Thursday's practice at Lions headquarters. "I’ll hear a little bit of everything. But it’s getting better."

So is Detroit's running game now that Leshoure is in the fold.

After missing his rookie season because of a torn Achilles tendon, Leshoure has rebounded to become the team’s leading rusher entering the FOX America's Game of the Week against visiting Green Bay (1 p.m. ET Sunday).

“I'm finally starting to get my legs back,” said Leshoure, who has 418 yards and four touchdowns on his 105 carries. “I was out a year, and I felt it. I feel good and healthy, but I definitely had to get back in the swing of things and get my rhythm back.”

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Leshoure, though, needed no time to post his first 100-yard rushing game. That came in Leshoure’s NFL debut in Week 3 against Tennessee.

Leshoure said he received encouraging texts from friends and family members beforehand reminding him, “It’s finally here. Today is your big day. It’s time to show the world what you can do.”

"It was tough just being on the sideline, especially when you feel you could actually help,” Leshoure said of the 2011 season. “But at the same time, you can't be too down about it. Things happen. You've just got to be able to bounce back, rehab and do what you need to do to get back on the field."

Leshoure’s debut was further delayed by a two-game NFL suspension after two off-season arrests for marijuana possession. Leshoure promised he has learned his lesson.

“I matured a lot,” said Leshoure, a second-round pick from Illinois. “I became a man and learned how to be a professional on and off the field.

“It’s just the start of my journey. It was a little rocky, but you learn from everything that happens to you. It made me a lot better today.”

Although the Lions rank No. 24 in rushing, that 98.8-yard average is skewed by Detroit’s penchant for falling behind early and having to rely on the passing game during fourth-quarter comeback attempts. Green Bay has done a nice job stopping the run but will be playing Sunday without star outside linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring).

"They show a lot of pressures and man coverage,” Leshoure said of the Packers. “I'm sure they'll play us a little differently than most teams we've seen.

“Every team plays us differently with our passing attack and our threats. We usually don't see the same types of coverages that most teams do."

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Detroit’s prolific passing game gives Leshoure the chance to become the bell-cow running back the Lions have sorely lacked since a player whose name everybody still remembers – Barry Sanders.

"I just want to be an every-down back,” Leshoure said. “I want to be a back that doesn't necessarily have to come out of the game and can handle the load. That's a lot harder than people think.”

Just like saying Mikel Leshoure correctly.

Tagged: Lions, Mikel Leshoure

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