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Lions' ground game stalling again this season

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Zach Zenner has seen 33 percent of his 24 carries fail to result in positive yardage.

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions were last in the NFL in rushing last season and a deeper dive into the numbers suggests they might be worse this year.

The Lions are averaging 5.3 more yards per game, but that can largely be attributed to quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is running more and gaining 5.8 more yards on the ground each week. The team is averaging the same 3.8 yards per carry, year over year.

Where the Lions are really hurting is consistency. A staggering 19.9 percent of the team’s runs are stopped for no gain or a loss. That’s nearly double from last season.

Individually, no one is getting stuffed for no gain more frequently than Zach Zenner, with 33 percent of his 24 carries failing to result in positive yardage. Theo Riddick isn’t far behind at 24 percent.

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The Lions are also among the worst in the league in short-yardage situations. When needing two or fewer yards on third or fourth down, the team is converting just 43 percent of the time when running the ball, tied for last with the Patriots and Buccaneers.

Injuries have unquestionably impacted the situation. Starting running back Ameer Abdullah appeared primed for a breakout season, but a foot injury landed him on injured reserve after two games. He had been averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Riddick and rookie Dwayne Washington have also missed time.

But for a team who has frequently emphasized the need to run the ball, they’ve made minimal progress improving after last season’s struggles.

Twitter: @justin_rogers