RB-needy Lions host Indiana star Tevin Coleman

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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Indiana running back Tevin Coleman plays against Penn State on Nov. 8, 2014.

The Detroit Lions almost certainly will take a running back early in this year's NFL draft, and they hosted one of the most intriguing names at the position today: Indiana's Tevin Coleman.

Coleman, the second-leading rusher in college football last year (2,036 yards), played most of last season with a broken big toe on his right foot. He underwent surgery to remove a sesamoid bone and reattach a tendon in December and won't be able to work out for teams until his personal pro day next month.

"I was really ready to (work out at the NFL combine), but my doctor said I shouldn't do it," Coleman said last month. "I'm just following his rules, following his orders. Come pro day, I'm going to be ready."

Coleman injured his toe in an October win over North Texas, then rushed for 1,195 yards in the Hoosiers' last seven games.

He said he decided to play through the injury because "I had to lead my team." He unknowingly might have earned the respect of NFL teams in the process.

"It was definitely painful," Coleman said.

The Lions have an opening at running back after releasing Reggie Bush last month, and as many as eight backs could go in the draft's first three rounds.

Coleman is projected as a second-day pick by most analysts, thought some think he could challenge Georgia's Todd Gurley and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon as the first back off the board.

Coleman said his vision and ability to pass protect are traits that set him apart in this year's running back class, and he said he decided to turn pro a season early for one simple reason: "After the season that I had, I felt I was ready to help a team win a Super Bowl," he said.

The Lions, have used four of their 30 allotted predraft visits. Earlier this week, they hosted defensive linemen Mario Edwards (Florida State) and Xavier Cooper (Washington State) and offensive lineman Antoine Everett (McNeese State) in Allen Park.

• Possible Lions draft targets:

Note: Former Lions tackle Jason Fox has signed a two-year contract to remain with the Miami Dolphins rather than become a free agent next week. Fox is going into his fifth NFL season and his second with the Dolphins, and he has five career starts. Fox was a fourth-round draft pick by the Lions in 2010. He also was in the news this week as one of nearly 150 reserve police officers in tiny Oakley, Mich.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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