There were few bright spots for the Detroit Lions on Sunday, as the Baltimore Ravens dominated in a 44-20 rout. However, one player stood out for the Lions – undrafted free agent running back Tion Green.
Green, who played collegiately at Cincinnati, saw his first NFL game action this past Sunday. On his first career carry, Green torched the Baltimore defense for 33 yards. He finished the game with 51 yards on just 11 carries (4.6 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
Obviously, those numbers are not all that eye-popping, but they’re certainly something that an undrafted rookie in his first ever game should be proud of. Given Detroit’s constant struggles in the running game, seeing the rookie runner bust off a big run and score from six yards out was a nice change of pace.
Green also caught the attention of his head coach, Jim Caldwell. Speaking to the media, Caldwell had this to say about his rookie halfback:
“He ran pretty well. He had some pretty good runs out there, made some tough runs. His touchdown run was a very good run, and obviously, he had a pretty nice gain there coming off the left side. He did some nice things. He got his shoulders square, and I thought he did well.”
Green got his chance due to injuries to Ameer Abdullah and Dwayne Washington. Abdullah missed Sunday’s game with a neck injury, while Washington had to sit out with a hip problem.
While Sunday’s game in Baltimore was the first time this season that the former Bearcat has been active on a game day, he’s not a practice squad player who was called up. Green made the active 53-man roster as a UFA out of camp. He impressed the coaching staff and carved out a spot as the fifth running back on the roster.
As I’m sure every NFL player feels, Green thought that he could help the Lions throughout the season if he were out there. He has been ready all season long, telling MLive it “hurt” his heart not being suited up on Sundays.
Caldwell is not the only one who was impressed with the rookie’s performance. Wide receiver Golden Tate has taken notice of Green’s work ethic. He said that he thinks Green “made the best” of his opportunity.
Green’s role the rest of the season is a mystery at this point. Washington and Abdullah may return for Detroit’s Week 14 bout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In fact, Washington practiced in full last week, but the Lions decided to rest him for another week. Perhaps Washington is at full health now, or maybe the coaching staff is instead favoring their first-year tailback going forward.
Whatever the future holds for Green, he impressed in his debut and is off to a promising start.