The Detroit Lions released veteran running back Stevan Ridley early Thursday, thus reducing the competition for the final roster spot at running back heading into next week’s roster trimming.

Detroit Lions Release Veteran RB Stevan Ridley

Ridley, 27, signed a one-year deal that included $250,000 guaranteed this spring, but he was used infrequently in the Lions’ first two preseason games.

“Just like anything else that we do just in terms of evaluation process, we take a look at it and we go through our transactions and we make moves according to what we think is best for us,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s still got obviously some juice left and he’s a good player, just in our situation we just did what we think is best.”

Following back-to-back breakout seasons in 2012 and 2013 with the New England Patriots, Ridley suffered an ACL tear in 2014, and his game play has severely suffered since. The running back played eight games last season with the New York Jets, but looked slow, couldn’t cut well and averaged just 2.5 yards per carry on 36 carries.


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Starting Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah is practicing without a red no-contact jersey for the first time this summer. Abdullah, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in January, could make his preseason debut Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Furthermore, Theo Riddick established himself as one of the top pass-catching running backs in the NFL with 80 receptions last season. Zach Zenner has consistently worked with the second-team offense this preseason, while rookie seventh-round pick Dwayne Washington has amazed in both the running game and on special teams.

Washington returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown in Detroit’s preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he also led the team with 22 yards rushing on six carries last week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’ve been impressed with some of the things he’s done,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “When the guy gets the ball, he does impressive things. That’s a good trait to have. We’re still evaluating him. He’s a young guy. You know, because of the NFL rules, he got here pretty late from Washington. That’s the graduation rules and all that stuff and the OTAs, but he’s doing some impressive things. He’s a young guy. He’s got plenty to learn. He’s getting better in pass-pro every day. Like to see him keep coming in that realm, but we’re going to hand him the ball some more and see what he does.”

It will certainly be a difficult task for Ridely to stand out with all the younger players, who have impressed on special teams.

New general manager Bob Quinn, who came from New England, attempted to grant a shot to a veteran who delivered during his years with the Patriots, although it didn’t work out.

The release of Ridley now allows Zenner (likely in the lead for the backup big-back role), Washington and George Winn to vie for what could be two roster spots in the final week of the preseason.

FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 11: Stevan Ridley #22 of the New England Patriots runs the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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