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Detroit Lions look to D'Andre Swift, ex-Green Bay Packer Jamaal Williams to improve running game

Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift runs making a catch during practice in Allen Park on June 3. (AP file photo)

ALLEN PARK (AP) — The Detroit Lions plan to lean on a backfield tandem of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams this season, and newly acquired running back Craig Reynolds showed a flash of promise in the team’s preseason opener.

Swift, the Lions’ second-round draft pick in 2020, figures to be the centerpiece of Detroit’s running game. However, a nagging groin injury has limited him in training camp this summer.

Coach Dan Campbell said Swift is trending in the right direction, but he isn’t expecting to use the running back tonight against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Lions’ preseason game.

This isn’t the first time Swift has had to deal with an injury in the preseason.

Last year, a leg injury kept him out for a significant portion of training camp. But after being eased into the lineup during his rookie season, Swift proved why he was worth the investment. He rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and finished the season with a team-high 4.6 yards per carry.

It won’t be up to Swift alone to help turn around a Lions running game that hasn’t finished among the top 10 in total yards since 1998.

Detroit signed former Green Bay running back Williams this offseason. Though Williams rushed for only 15 yards on nine carries in the preseason opener, he impressed the coaching staff by converting on two third-and-1s during the Lions’ second drive.

“To know that you have a guy that if it’s anywhere in that range, he’s going to find a way to puncture the line of scrimmage and get you a first down,” Campbell said, “not only does that give you confidence as a play caller and a head coach, it gives the offensive line a lot of confidence.”

The Lions will use the next few weeks to figure out who will round out their running back depth chart beyond Swift and Williams.

Last week against the Buffalo Bills, it was Reynolds who stood out among Detroit’s reserves. Reynolds rushed for 49 yards on six carries, including an impressive 24-yard touchdown, just a day after signing with the team.