The Lions released Asiata on Friday.
Asiata would have provided a goal-line punch if he made the Lions' 53-man roster, but his performance in the preseason was lacking, to say least. Overall, he converted 27 carries into 66 yards and no touchdowns, while catching two of four passes for 14 yards. After a successful five-year run with the Vikings prior to this stint with the Lions, it wouldn't surprise if another organization gives Asiata a shot, perhaps as early as Week 1.
Though he received a decent amount of work Friday, Asiata benefitted from Zach Zenner's (undisclosed) absence and wasn't particularly impressive in any right. He'll have one more chance to make a statement in the preseason finale this Thursday against the Bills.
Asiata rushed five times for 10 yards in Saturday's preseason game against the Jets. He also caught one of two targets for nine yards.
Asiata, who notably entered the game ahead of second-year RB Dwayne Washington, was effective in pass protection but looked to be his usual plodding self as a runner Saturday. He'll likely need to make a much larger impression in the third preseason game in order to unseat Washington for the No. 4 job, as Asiata's skillset is seemingly redundant with Zach Zenner, who sits at No. 3 on the depth chart.
Signed in late May to add veteran depth to a relatively young Detroit backfield, Asiata is a jack of all trades but a master of none. He's capable -- but not proficient -- in nearly all of the responsibilities that belong to a modern day NFL running back, including pass protection, catching balls out of the backfield, and toting the rock. However, he's buried under Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick (wrist), Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington on the depth chart. There's a chance Detriot keeps five running backs on the 53-man roster in 2017 since it let go of fullback Michael Burton this offseason, but as it stands, Asiata looks to be competing with fellow reserve Mike James to claim the potential No. 5 RB job.
Asiata, who spent the previous five seasons with the Vikings, will remain in the NFC North as a member of the Lions. The 29-year-old's best season in Minnesota came in 2014, when he tallied 882 total yards to go along with nine touchdowns. With Adrian Peterson sidelined much of 2016, Asiata managed a respectable 402 yards on 121 carries and six touchdowns. He will enter a crowded backfield in Detroit, so it remains to be seen whether he'll make the final roster. The team is likely looking for a bigger back to pair with the elusiveness of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.
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