Mikel Leshoure's first NFL season was lost to a torn Achilles tendon, and he never gained much traction in his second, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.

But two years after the Lions traded up to get Leshoure in the second round of the draft, they're still believers in his potential as a game-changing running back.

"He flashed enough highs that that gives us optimism that he can, but he also had enough inconsistencies to say that he's not there yet," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Thursday at the NFL combine. "We still have high hopes for him and expect him to make a big jump.

"It's a common thing, players jumping from Year 1 to Year 2. He's a little bit in that boat. It's not necessarily Year 1 to Year 2 for him, but playing-wise it is. He doesn't have a whole lot of games under his belt."

After serving a two-game suspension to start last season, Leshoure debuted with 100 yards rushing in the Lions' Week 3 overtime loss to Tennessee.

But he battled a hamstring injury during training camp that cut into his reps and was limited in late September by a sore groin, a product of too big a workload (26 carries) in his first NFL game.

Leshoure led the Lions with nine touchdowns last season, but he had problems with ball security (three lost fumbles) and he didn't have a run longer than 16 yards in 215 carries, the only back in the NFL with more than 115 touches and no explosive runs.

Schwartz said he's confident Leshoure will evolve next season to the point where he does more than simply grind out yards between the tackles.