Detroit Lions running back C.J. Anderson hits his stride against Buffalo Bills

Carlos Monarrez
Detroit Free Press
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On one play, Detroit Lions running back C.J. Anderson turned the corner around the right end. A few plays later, he stiff-armed Buffalo Bills cornerback Levi Wallace.

“I think turning the corner surprised more people than the stiff-arm,” said Anderson, a 28-year-old, 5-foot-8, 225-pound bruiser of a back. “I’m a lot faster than what people think. … The fact that I can get around (the corner) just lets me know I’m going through my reads and things are going well and I’m trusting myself and my ability.”

Anderson had his best game of the preseason in Friday night's 24-20 loss to the Bills. He had eight carries for 24 yards and caught two passes for 17 yards. He was part of a solid team effort that produced a preseason-best 105 rushing yards.

Detroit Lions running back C.J. Anderson runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills' Captain Munnerlyn during the second quarter at Ford Field, Aug. 23, 2019.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford made his preseason debut and played five series in the first half, when the Lions accrued 182 of 317 total yards of offense.

“We came in with a mini-game play like a lot of teams will do with this third preseason game,” Anderson said. “I think when you look at the game play you set your mindset up to the game plan.

“Obviously our emphasis was to run the ball. We’re trying to run the ball effectively and efficiently, so you do those things and try to have those communications with coach (Darrell Bevell) and my running back coach, coach Kyle (Caskey). You just try to do things as you’re going. With Staff being out there, it’s just more demand and command, like, ‘Hey, lock in’ and remind you of little situations.”

Lions running back C.J. Anderson escapes from Buffalo Bills defensive back Levi Wallace in the preseason game Aug. 23, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Anderson has played plenty in six seasons with three teams. With Denver, he was a Pro Bowler, ran for 1,007 yards and won a Super Bowl. He played in a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams last season.

But now he’s settling in with the Lions and starting to find his footing.

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“Yeah, I think I’m getting my feet wet and getting ready to go,” he said. “Obviously this is not my first rodeo. So being a vet and playing in that third preseason game it’s time to ramp it up, time to go.

“You watch the tape, you can learn same things. Then, hopefully two weeks from now, going into Week 1, I’m not making some of the same mistakes.”

Contact Carlos Monarrez at or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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