'Important step' for Lions' Mikel Leshoure

The Detroit Lions' final offseason practice of 2012 was punctuated by a hopeful symbol: Tailback Mikel Leshoure taking his first "live" handoff since rupturing his Achilles tendon last August.

Leshoure has participated in portions of organized team activities and minicamp this spring, but until Thursday, the Lions had held him out of full 11-on-11 drills. His inclusion Thursday suggests he doesn't have much further to go in his rehabilitation process, if anything remains at all. Although the NFL has suspended him from the first two games of the season, he can still report to and participate in training camp and the preseason. If all goes well, he will be ready to play in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans.

According to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, Lions players reacted audibly to Leshoure's first carry and several congratulated him. Coach Jim Schwartz told reporters: "The thing that was most encouraging about it, when the ball went in his hands he didn't think about it. We ran him left and we ran him right and he was making cuts off defenders. He was making cuts as they appeared. He was a running back. He wasn't doing rehab. He wasn't doing foot patterns. He wasn't controlling the action. He was reacting to the defense. That was an important step for him."

Leshoure told reporters it "felt good" to advance to team work and seemed at peace with his suspension. "I am definitely not happy about it," he said. "I would love to be with my team. But I understand the consequences you face when you do wrong. One thing is for certain, though, I have learned from my mistakes and I am still trying to put it in the past."

As we discussed Wednesday, Leshoure got a relatively reasonable punishment for two marijuana-related incidents in the span of a few months. He has no room for error, but plenty of opportunity for growth.