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Best ready to show skills in exhibition opener
Question of the Day
ALLEN PARK, MICH. (AP) - The Detroit Lions knew they were getting a talented runner when they drafted Jahvid Best late in April's first round.
They are starting to discover they have gotten more than that.
Best, selected 30th overall out of California, has impressed coaches and teammates with his blocking and receiving ability.
Best never caught more than 27 passes in any of his three seasons with the Golden Bears, but will get more chances in a Detroit offense that already features high-profile receivers like Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler.
"Jahvid is going to be a great addition for us," quarterback Matt Stafford said. "He's very valuable in the passing game because you can get him isolated on a linebacker and he's got great instincts as a receiver. We've got a lot of talented receivers, and he gives us another one."
While Stafford is happy to see how well Best is fitting into the passing game, he's surprised at how well he has picked up the blocking scheme. Not Best.
"I've always worked at catching the ball and blocking," he said. "I want to be ready for any role they need me to fill."
That's even true if they need him to imitate Stafford.
"I can sling the ball pretty well," Best said with a grin. "I've never played quarterback at any level in my life, but I've played some wildcat, so if they want me to throw a couple, I'll be ready."
With Kevin Smith unlikely to play in Pittsburgh as he recovers from the knee surgery that ended his 2009 season, Best is expected to get some playing time with Detroit's first-string offense.
"I know what I'm expected to do, because we've worked on it in practice, but a game is different," he said. "The biggest adjustment is going to be the speed of the game. When everyone is going full-speed, it isn't like anything I've faced in college."
Best averaged 7.3 yards per carry in college and scored 29 rushing touchdowns, but isn't focused on making spectacular plays in his preseason debut.
"My main goal is to be assignment-perfect," he said. "I want to make sure that I do the right things on every play. The rest will come."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz feels the same way about Best and the other running backs competing for time. Maurice Morris got a great deal of playing time with the starting unit on Thursday, while Aaron Brown and DeDe Dorsey are also trying for spots in the rotation.
"I don't know that they need to show us any flashes," he said. "They need to be consistent. They need to be sound in all aspects of the game _ passing game, protection, running and anything else. That's true for every player, but we have competition at that position."
NOTES: Schwartz and first-round pick DT Ndamukong Suh had a gentle disagreement Thursday about the impact of Suh's short holdout at the start of camp. Suh told reporters that he felt like he had already made up for his missed time, but Schwartz wasn't as sure. "I think coaches and players see that differently. I don't think, at the end of his career, he's going to look back and worry about those days, but he definitely missed some things by not being here." ... Schwartz declined to give any indications of which players would sit out the Steelers game, saying that he didn't expect to start making those decisions until Friday. "There are four or five guys I could probably rule out right now, but I'll wait until I have the whole group. There will probably be guys that we take all the way through warmups Saturday night before pulling them out."
By Orrin G. Hatch
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