Lions' hidden treasure: Running back

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

There is reason to be optimistic about the Detroit Lions' backfield despite a two-game suspension for one prominent player and every-down concerns about another.

By the time Mikel Leshoure gets into a regular-season game, he'll have gone a full 13 months since rupturing his Achilles tendon. That's more than enough time to project him at 100 percent when his 2012 season begins.

Jahvid Best's concussion history always will be a concern, but the 14-game eligibility of Leshoure should give the Lions an opportunity to pick and choose their spots for Best's unique game-breaking skills. And if nothing else, veteran Kevin Smith proved last season that he can jump into the lineup and produce immediately on short notice.

The Lions would prefer to have fewer question marks and contingencies in their backfield, but it's not difficult to foresee more than adequate success.