With a rookie at QB, sophomore RB will be relied on heavily.
Kevin Smith's role in the Lions' offense got immeasurably more significant when rookie Matthew Stafford was named starting QB.
Not that he wasn't going to be important anyway, but there's nothing more valuable to a rookie QB in the NFL than having a reliable RB -- a guy that can handle some of the load and shoulder some of the pressure. Just ask Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco.
Ryan was the first QB taken in last year's Draft and started right away for the Falcons. Flacco, as a rookie, beat out incumbent Kyle Boller for the starting spot with the Ravens. Both led their teams to the playoffs and both had one thing in common: the support of an excellent rushing attack. The Falcons ranked second in rushing, the Ravens fourth.
Smith rushed for 976 yards in 2008, fourth-best among NFL rookies, with eight touchdowns. But those numbers have to be better if he's going to help shoulder some of the burden from Stafford.