With every passing week of inactivity, the chances diminished for Jahvid Best returning to the field this season for the Detroit Lions. The news became official Friday when the Lions announced they would place Best on injured reserve, probably because they needed his roster spot, but also in acknowledgement that concussion symptoms lingering for nearly six weeks require serious and deliberate attention.
In a statement, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said the team is looking forward to Best's "eventual return to the field." But I think it's fair to shift our thinking on Best's future. Given his concussion history, which included a scary season-ending fall during his final year at Cal in 2009, Best can no longer be considered a fundamental building block of this team.
It sounds cold, but from a team-building perspective, the Lions must proceed without any expectation that Best will return. They'll need to plan for someone else to start at running back in 2012, and should consider it a bonus if Best one day resumes that role.
The Lions have worked hard to assemble a deep backfield in recent years, using a first-round draft choice to select Best in 2010 and then a second-rounder on Mikel Leshoure this year. Best's career is now in question, and Leshoure ruptured an Achilles tendon in training camp and was lost for the season.
Leshoure is no sure bet himself after such a serious injury, but recent emphasis on concussion recovery makes his situation a little more defined than Best's. This isn't an issue the Lions need to worry about at the moment, but it will be an important part of their offseason.