Veteran Lions RB Could Be Battling for His Job This Season: Insider

Craig Reynolds

Getty Craig Reynolds runs the ball in a Detroit Lions game.

The Detroit Lions head into the 2023 season with the top end of their running back rotation set, but one insider believes there could be a battle brewing for the third and potentially final spot on the roster.

Free-agent pickup David Montgomery and first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs are expected to get the majority of the carries this season, but The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy wrote that there could be a battle brewing for the No. 3 spot.

Veteran Craig Reynolds is well respected in the Lions’ locker room after two seasons in Detroit, but undrafted free agent Mohamed Ibrahim could make a strong bid for the third spot on the roster, Pouncy added. Since Detroit has carried just three running backs in recent years, that could mean a battle for his future with the team.

Lions Vet May Have Tenuous Hold on Roster Spot

As Pouncy noted, Reynolds appears to have the trust of the Lions’ coaching staff but not a strong hold on a roster spot. Pouncy noted a conversation aired on “Hard Knocks” last year where Lions head coach Dan Campbell questioned how much Reynolds brought to the roster and whether the team would be that different without him.

“And for what it’s worth, the response was swift and supportive in favor of Reynolds,” Pouncy noted. “Former senior offensive assistant John Morton said Reynolds was everything the Lions represent. Offensive line coach Hank Fraley and former running backs coach Duce Staley said the offensive line loves Reynolds because of his knowledge of the protections and their relationship with him. Wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El echoed those sentiments.”

But Reynolds saw his production decline during his two seasons in Detroit, first rushing for 230 yards in the 2021 season but amassing just 102 yards last season. He has yet to find the endzone.

Pouncy gave the early roster advantage for Reynolds over Ibrahim, but noted that he may only be ahead of the rookie “for now.”

Lions Showing Faith in Undrafted Rookie

The Lions have already given the rookie Ibrahim a vote of confidence. NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero reported that the Lions gave the former Minnesota running back a financial commitment unusual for an undrafted rookie.

“Former Minnesota RB Mohamed Ibrahim is signing with the #Lions on a deal that includes $100,000 guaranteed, per source. Basically the same money as being a seventh-round pick, with the ability to renegotiate sooner,” Pelissero tweeted. “When healthy, Ibrahim is a baller.”

Jeff Risdon of USA Today’s Lions Wire noted that Detroit is a great fit for Ibrahim, who could benefit from the team’s strong blocking. But Ibrahim’s roster viability could also depend on his ability to make an impact beyond the rushing game, Risdon added.

“Ibrahim’s aggressive style of going straight north/south and willingness to attack would-be tacklers fits well in the Lions offense,” Risdon wrote. “Ibrahim figures to challenge stylistically similar vet Craig Reynolds for the No. 3 RB spot behind David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. His ability to contribute on special teams and in the passing game will determine if Ibrahim sticks long-term.”

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