Forsett on doubters who think tank is empty: 'Watch me'

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Justin Forsett is on the wrong side of 30. He’ll celebrate his 31st birthday this week, two days before he makes his debut with the Detroit Lions. His production has been in decline for two years and his former team, the Baltimore Ravens, chose to move on a little more than a year removed from his career-best season.

So what does he say to fans who believe his best days are in the rear-view mirror?

“Watch me.”

Forsett is defiant, but he’s used to having to overcome obstacles. It’s not easy for anyone to stick in the NFL for nine years, let alone an undersized running back who was drafted in the seventh round.

He was cut twice as a rookie. After being drafted by the Seahawks, he was picked up by the Colts, where Lions head man Jim Caldwell was serving as the quarterbacks coach.

Forsett said he loved Caldwell, but the coach barely remembered the paths crossing.

“It was his rookie year, he was in and out of there pretty quickly,” Caldwell said. “You get a sense of guys. You know he’s a quality guy, but I don’t know if he was there a week. It might have been somewhere around there, a couple days.”

It was actually a little more than a month. Forsett appeared in three games in Indianapolis before he was released and found his way back to Seattle where he played three seasons, before signing with Houston as a free agent.

Lions safety Glover Quin was teammates with Forsett in Houston during the 2012 season and is impressed with the back’s tenacity.

“I always find it very intriguing when a guy his size being able to stay in the NFL for this many years,” Quin said. “You look at him, you look at Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, some of the smaller backs that can stay in the league for a long time. They must know how to run the ball, they must make plays in the pass game and they have to be able to pass protect.”

The versatile Forsett, who has proven to be a capable receiver out of the backfield, is ready to apply his craft in Detroit after a crash course on the team’s playbook.

New Lion Forsett has fond memories of Thanksgiving 2012

“I’ve been playing a long time, so a lot of things I can marry to some of the information I had beforehand,” he said. “I think I can pick it up fairly quickly.”

Forsett explains away his early season struggles with the Ravens, where he was averaging a career-low 3.2 yards per carry before his release, as a combination of issues, including some schematic problems. The team dismissed offensive coordinator Marc Trestman this week.

It’s also possible Forsett didn’t play enough to knock off the rust from last season’s season-ending injury. He’s only carried the ball 38 times, between the preseason and regular season, since suffering a broken arm at the hands of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald last season.

Coincidentally, Forsett’s first game with the Lions will be against Donald and the Rams, but that’s not something he’s given much thought.

“Well, we don’t have an individual matchup,” Forsett said. “If we’re one-on-one with each other, something went wrong. Hopefully, I can get out there and execute. I was having a good game up to that point, but I’m not really worried about that.”

What Forsett is worried about is proving himself.

The 5-foot-8, 195-pounder has been clawed his way from a bottom-of-the-roster rookie, to a change-of-pace back in Seattle and Houston to a starter in Baltimore. He wants to show he’s still has something to offer to a team.

“I’ve done a lot of things in my career,” he said. “I just want to be used. That’s my main purpose.”

Twitter: @justin_rogers