Lions' 2024 Roster Bubble: Running Backs

Which Lions' running backs could be on 2024 roster bubble?
Detroit Lions running back Craig Reynolds (13) practices during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Thursday, May 30, 2024.
Detroit Lions running back Craig Reynolds (13) practices during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Thursday, May 30, 2024. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Detroit Lions have the potential to boast one of the most exciting running back duos in the entire league for the 2024 season.

Given the workload traditionally placed on running backs, the position is one of fragile nature and can force teams to require depth to navigate the course of an NFL season. However, the Lions have two reliable and explosive options that can allow them to divert the large workload.

In David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, the Lions can choose between exciting options to maneuver over the course of any given game. Both provide unique skill sets and can help anchor the team's run-first attack.

Montgomery provided a steady, physical presence. Gibbs, meanwhile, is lightning in a bottle and a threat to score every time he touches the ball. The Alabama product could also see more opportunities as a receiver throughout the 2024 campaign.

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Behind those two, the Lions' apparent third option is Craig Reynolds. First coming to Detroit in 2021, Reynolds has earned the trust of the coaching staff for his reliability and understanding of the team's vast schemes and pass protections.

Reynolds has also proven valuable in a pinch. Over three campaigns with the organization, he has logged 511 rushing yards and one score on 119 carries. He also notched a crucial fourth-and-goal touchdown run in the Divisional Round last season.

Rookie Sione Vaki is an intriguing player as well. The Utah product was mainly a safety during his time at Utah, though he took on running back responsibilities late in his college career.

The Lions were enamored with his skill set and natural instincts at the position and have made every effort to utilize him primarily on offense. However, he could be limited in his rookie year as he learns the nuances of the position. Expect Vaki to be primarily a special teams contributor in his first season.

Roster bubble

If the Lions elect to carry four running backs into the 2024 regular season, the most vulnerable of the players listed above would likely be Reynolds.

There are three others on the team's current roster, headlined by Zonovan Knight. The Lions signed Knight to the practice squad after he was cut by the New York Jets last year, and he was eventually elevated to the active roster.

However, Knight didn't get many opportunities as his season ended with a shoulder injury in Week 5. He showed flashes in his first year with the Jets, so there is intriguing upside within his abilities.

Jermar Jefferson is a seventh-round pick of the Lions from the 2021 Draft, but he has not cracked the active roster since that year. Though he's been a mainstay on the practice squad, Jefferson has not logged a carry since his rookie year.

For Jefferson, this could be a final chance for him to make his way onto Detroit's active roster.

Another potential option is Jake Funk, who was a late addition to the Lions' practice squad last season. The Maryland product spent time collegiately playing under running backs coach Scottie Montgomery, and the two have a good relationship.


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Christian Booher

CHRISTIAN BOOHER

Sports journalist who has covered the Detroit Lions the past three NFL seasons. Christian brings expert analysis, insights and an ability to fairly assess how the team is performing in a tough NFC North division.