By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - A banged-up backfield still remains a great concern for Jim Schwartz heading into the 2012 campaign, though it appears as if the fiery Detroit Lions head coach will finally have one of his top options available for the team's preseason showdown with the Oakland Raiders from the O.co Coliseum.
Mikel Leshoure is on track to make his long-awaited Lions debut following a string of troubling injuries that have sidelined the 2011 second-round draft pick all throughout his brief pro career. He spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve after rupturing his Achilles tendon last summer and sat out Detroit's initial two tests of this preseason with a strained hamstring.
Though he will miss the Lions' first two games of the upcoming regular season due to a league suspension, Leshoure's expected return is still a positive development for a Detroit squad that still doesn't know if or when it will have a healthy Jahvid Best. The playmaking back still has yet to be cleared to practice after missing most of last season with a severe concussion and seems destined to begin the year on the physically unable to perform list.
The Lions do have dependable veteran Kevin Smith to hold down the fort in the interim, and the team has gotten very good work from some lesser names thus far in the preseason. Reserves Joique Bell and Keiland Williams are both averaging well over five yards per carry through the first two games, while undrafted rookie Stephfon Green ripped off a 76-yard touchdown run to cap last week's 27-12 victory at Baltimore.
Detroit has averaged 182 rushing yards over its two preseason tilts, surpassed by only San Francisco (189.0) for the most in the NFL over that stretch.
The Lions can throw the ball as well, which the 2011 NFC playoff participants also demonstrated against the Ravens. Quarterback Matthew Stafford racked up 184 yards and two touchdowns while hitting on 12-of-17 attempts in less than a half's worth of work, while superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson burned Baltimore for 111 yards on five catches in his brief stint.
Stafford, who set a franchise record with 5,038 passing yards last season, hooked up with Johnson for an 18-yard score early in the second quarter and found Titus Young for a 24-yard touchdown shortly after.
Detroit probably won't have running back Stefan Logan active for Saturday's clash after he turned an ankle against the Ravens, while its defense will be without free safety Louis Delmas (knee surgery), end Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee) and tackle Sammie Hill (back) for a third consecutive week.
The Raiders' medical issues at the moment reside at wide receiver, where talented second-year man Denarius Moore has been out for nearly all of camp with a hamstring pull and speedster Jacoby Ford's status for the start of the regular season is in jeopardy after he sprained his left foot during last week's 31-27 loss at Arizona.
Their absences have provided an unforeseen opportunity for Rod Streater, an undrafted rookie who's caught 13 passes over Oakland's first two games. The Temple product had seven receptions totaling 43 yards against the Cardinals and will draw a start this week with both Moore and Ford inactive.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen does hope to have backup running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring), tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder) and All-Pro punter Shane Lechler back in action after all were held out of last week's matchup. Center Stefen Wisniewski (calf) and linebacker Aaron Curry (knees) will likely miss another week, however.
Carson Palmer and Oakland's first-team offense are slated to work into the third quarter of Saturday's contest. The veteran quarterback completed 13- of-24 throws for 107 yards with an interception over the first two quarters of the Arizona game, while the Raiders' defense came up with four sacks and a safety in a losing cause.
Oakland will be attempting to avenge a 28-27 home loss to the Lions last December, in which Detroit roared back from a 13-point deficit with under five minutes to play. The Raiders have prevailed in four of their five all-time preseason meetings with the Lions, however, and dealt Detroit a 21-3 defeat at the Coliseum in 2006 in the most recent exhibition standoff between the teams.
08/23 10:57:47 ET
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