Rudi Johnson would improve Lions' depth

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
How serious are the Detroit Lions about improving their running game?

According to multiple reports in Detroit, the Lions are hosting former Cincinnati running back Rudi Johnson on a visit. Johnson arrived Sunday night in Detroit and is scheduled to take a physical and work out with the Lions on Monday.

It's not clear if Johnson has other options he intends to pursue as well. But as with free agency in the offseason, a player's first visit usually is pretty important. The Lions' original 53-man roster included only two tailbacks - Kevin Smith and Tatum Bell - but they were awarded rookie Marcus Thomas on waivers Sunday.

Johnson, who is entering his eighth season, was a 1,000-yard rusher as recently as 2006 but has since struggled with injury problems. A hamstring injury slowed him during training camp with the Bengals, and he was released Saturday.

He probably is past his prime as an everydown runner, but Johnson would represent an improvement over Bell as a backup to Smith. The Lions plan to run with frequency this season, and they'll need as many pairs of fresh -- and competent legs -- they can get.