ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jahvid Best caught a screen pass and turned up the field, then paused ever so slightly. Instead of running into the back of one of his blockers, the Detroit Lions rookie waited for a lane to open, and once he found one, he was gone for a 75-yard touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
With his speed and his savvy, Best has brought some much-needed excitement to the Lions. Although the team is struggling again to win games, the new running back is making quite an impact. In his first two games as a pro, he has scored five touchdowns.
Best is putting up numbers that have him in pretty impressive company. He is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two games since Billy Sims in 1980. In the Lions' 35-32 loss to the Eagles, he caught nine passes for 154 yards, the most yards receiving in a game by a first-year running back since Herschel Walker had 170 in 1986.
"My expectations are high, so whatever they need me to do, I feel like I should go out there and perform," Best said. "If somebody gets me, it's my fault. I owe it to my O-line and the receivers. When they put me in a good position, I have to make a play."
"All I had to do was stutter a little bit just to set it up, but everybody had their man and I think I went untouched," Best said. "That shows you that there's blocking out there."
It also shows that Best is a poised runner with good field vision.
Perhaps his one weakness is short-yardage situations -- the 5-foot-10, 199-pound Best was stopped on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter. That small frame has also raised questions about his durability. He missed a few games last season at California after a fall knocked him out and sent him to the hospital with a concussion and sore back.
Best was injured when he hurdled an Oregon State defender at the end of a touchdown run. He vaulted into the air and then was bumped even higher by another defender before falling on his back and head from about 8 feet in the air.
"There's no question about his ability," Minnesota coach Brad Childress said. "He's got 'A' ability. We just had, in this day and age, concerns about his concussions and the fact that with a smaller-in-stature running back, how he could play through that."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press