Andrew Weber-US Presswire

Mikel Leshoure starting over Kevin Smith

The Detroit Lions will start Mikel Leshoure over Kevin Smith at running back, in what will be his NFL debut. Leshoure will be facing the Tennessee Titans defense, which gave up 125 yards to fellow second-year running back Stevan Ridley in his debut as a starter to open the season.

Leshoure is returning from a two-game suspension to start the season, and the fact that he is already starting over Smith is a testament to his ability and the faith and value that the Lions have put into him already. Smith has rushed for 115 yards on 29 carries so far this season, and he had a successful 2011 campaign after averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

The 22-year-old Illinois product gives a different dimension to the Lions offense, but a major reason for Leshoure starting over Smith is because the coaching staff is less high on Smith due to a relatively slow start to the season. Both players will get their fair share of touches, but Leshoure will definitely be getting more early-down carries with Smith likely staying in as the third-down back.

Earlier this week, Chris Mortensen reported that the Lions are “excited” to play Leshoure, who was supposed to be a big part of the Lions offense as a rookie before being injured prior to the season. Mort projected 15 carries for him today, and that looks like a projection that will be fulfilled now that he has been listed as a starter today.

Louis Delmas, Tony Scheffler, and Lawrence Jackson are notable Week 3 inactives for the Lions.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

Tags: Detroit Lions Kevin Smith Mikel Leshoure

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