Rookie Best shines in first 2 games for Lions
Jahvid Best caught a screen pass and turned up the field, then
paused ever so slightly. Instead of running into the back of one of
his blockers, the Detroit rookie waited for a lane to open, and
once he found one, he was gone for a 75-yard touchdown against
Philadelphia last weekend.
With both his speed and his savvy, Best has brought some
much-needed excitement to the Lions. Although Detroit is struggling
again to win games, the new running back is making quite an impact.
In his first two games as a pro, he’s scored five touchdowns.
”I’m a fan,” Detroit receiver Nate Burleson said. ”I told him
in the preseason that his goals should be mighty high, individually
and as the starting running back of this team. He has the talent to
be one of the best backs in the NFL this year.”
Best is already putting up numbers that have him in pretty
impressive company. He’s the first rookie to score five touchdowns
in his first two games since Billy Sims in 1980. In Detroit’s 35-32
loss to the Eagles, he caught nine passes for 154 yards, the most
yards receiving in a game by a first-year running back since
Herschel Walker had 170 in 1986.
His 232 total yards from scrimmage against the Eagles put him
fifth on the Lions’ single-game list, just behind the likes of Sims
and Barry Sanders.
”My expectations are high, so whatever they need me to do, I
feel like I should go out there and perform,” Best said. ”If
somebody gets me, it’s my fault. I owe it to my O-line and the
receivers. When they put me in a good position, I have to make a
Best has helped the Lions score points despite an injury to
quarterback Matthew Stafford in Week 1. Detroit also lost Burleson
early against the Eagles with a right ankle injury.
The last thing the Lions need are injury problems after winning
just two games the last two seasons. Burleson said there’s a chance
he could play this weekend at Minnesota. Coach Jim Schwartz didn’t
give an update on Stafford’s status Monday but said he might have
more to say Wednesday.
With Burleson out and the Eagles focused on stopping wide
receiver Calvin Johnson, Detroit went to Best early and often. He
scored on a 14-yard run in the first quarter, and his 75-yard
touchdown reception gave the Lions a 17-7 lead in the second.
”All I had to do was stutter a little bit just to set it up,
but everybody had their man and I think I went untouched,” Best
said. ”That shows you that there’s blocking out there.”
It also shows that Best is a poised runner with good field
Perhaps his one weakness is short-yardage situations – the
5-foot-10, 199-pound Best was stopped on fourth-and-1 in the fourth
quarter. That small frame has also raised questions about his
durability. He missed a few games last season at California after a
fall knocked him out and sent him to the hospital with a concussion
and sore back.
Best was injured when he hurdled an Oregon State defender at the
end of a touchdown run. He vaulted into the air and then was bumped
even higher by another defender before falling on his back and head
from about 8 feet in the air.
Best’s injury history gave NFC North rival Minnesota pause. The
Vikings had the 30th pick in the draft but traded it to the Lions,
and Detroit took Best.
”There’s no question about his ability,” Minnesota coach Brad
Childress said. ”He’s got ‘A’ ability. We just had, in this day
and age, concerns about his concussions and the fact that with a
smaller-in-stature running back, how he could play through
This weekend, the Vikings have a new concern: stopping Best.