The wait for Lions running back Jahvid Best to get cleared for a return to football after a concussion ended his 2011 season has dragged on longer than expected and there’s still no end in sight.
No tangible end, anyway. Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew updated Best’s status on Tuesday, although update might be too strong a word when there’s been absolutely no change in Best’s status. Mayhew said that there have been conference calls with doctors who are evaluating Best and that it is up to medical staff to give Best the green light that he and the team have been waiting for all offseason. Despite the delays, Mayhew said that he remains confident that Best will be with the team this season.
“I’m a little bit surprised, little bit disappointed. Everything was trending toward him being ready to go the first day,” Mayhew said, via Tim Twentyman of the team’s website. “Eventually he will get cleared. I feel very positive and very comfortable saying that. It’s just the question of the timing.”
Mayhew also said that the team has been in contact with free agent running backs — Ryan Grant’s name has been mentioned in association with the Lions — should they feel the need to protect themselves against an even more extended absence from Best. With Mikel Leshoure adding a hamstring injury to his suspension and questions about how he’s recovered from last year’s Achilles injury, that decision probably will be impacted by things other than Best’s status.
Best’s status will be the biggest factor, though, and there really needs to be a change on that front soon if the Lions are going to pass on additional backfield help.