Theo Riddick has already begun to show the value of his versatility

Posted May 26, 2013

Having had exposure to both the run and the passing games allows Riddick to offer an all-purpose role for the Lions' offense

The Lions immediately improved their offense in March with the free agent signing of Reggie Bush. Bush fit the bill for the skilled, big-play threat they were looking for to compliment Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell in the backfield.

In April, they added another piece, selecting the multi-dimensional Theo Riddick in the sixth round of the draft.

Theo RiddickRB Theo Riddick (G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

The thing the Lions like most about Riddick is his versatility, which he showcased in his four years at Notre Dame. As a freshman, Riddick was primarily used as a kick returner, finishing with 37 returns for 849 yards, and was also utilized as a slot receiver where he caught 6 passes for 43 yards.

It wasn’t until his senior year that he made the shift to running back, but he still finished his collegiate career with 244 carries for 1,169 yards and 5 touchdowns, while adding 120 receptions for 1,263 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Having that exposure to both the run and the pass game allows him to offer a couple of different things to the offense, and through just one week of organized team activities, running backs coach Curtis Modkins can already see that value.

“He’s doing a good job of justifying why we drafted him,” said Modkins. “He’s like any of the other rookies out there, he’s got a ways to go, with the learning curve and the learning process, but I think he’s getting it.

“Every day he’s improving his knowledge of the playbook for when he’ll be able to go out and play with that versatility. I’ve been pleased with him so far.”

Modkins says the biggest transition for Riddick – and really for rookies in general – will be learning the “language” at this level. All of the terminology that he was used to in college goes out the window with the installment of the Lions' offensive system.

And on top of that, there’s just more expected of him both in the meeting room and on the field, which is what Riddick says he’s adjusting to now.

“I’m just trying to improve everyday,” he said. “Obviously it’s an adjustment, learning the playbook and things like that.

“I would say (the game) is faster because obviously these guys know exactly what they’re doing and it’s almost like a 360, because we’re just stepping out there and learning on the fly sometimes, but I think we’re all adjusting well and working hard right now.”

Riddick says the biggest help has been the support of his fellow running backs, who have been coaching him up on the field and in the classroom as well.

“They’re very helpful, always trying to give me pointers, even on little detailed things,” said Riddick. “They make sure we’re doing it right. They stay on top of us so we stay crisp in our assignments.”

How Riddick will be used in the offense won't be determined until the coaching staff can really get their hands on him during training camp, but so far Modkins likes how his group is coming together.

"I think we have a bunch of good guys on this team, and I think it’s the rookie's job to fit in with them, but it’s been a good fit so far.”