Reiff making it difficult for coaches to keep him on the sideline

Posted Oct 16, 2012

T Riley Reiff saw a significant increase in playing time on Sunday. What may or may not be coincidence is that it was also Detroit's best rushing performance of the year.

he Lions had their best performance running the football on Sunday, averaging a season-high 4.9 yards per carry on 138 total yards.

What may or may not be coincidence is the fact that rookie tackle Riley Reiff was on the field for nearly double the amount of snaps he played on offense over his previous four games combined.

Reiff, the team's first-round draft pick this past April, was used as a sixth offensive lineman on 22 offensive snaps Sunday - 28 percent of the offensive plays. He was powerful in the run game and showed terrific athleticism in space. He was also good in pass protection.

"I think more than anything it's a sign of the confidence we have in Riley," head coach Jim Schwartz said Monday when asked about the increased role for Reiff. "He did a really good job of blocking both versus the pass and the run. He finished blocks, as did our whole offensive line."

It begs the question, how much longer can the Lions keep Reiff off the field as a starter?

"Like I tell all the players: your role is going to increase when you do the role that you're asked to do well and he's done that for us," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told on Monday. "He's one of our best players (due to) him being able to match up as a left tackle, right tackle or whatever position he's playing on the offensive line.

"He played himself on the field how he played in a limited amount of snaps before and, obviously, we knew when we drafted him we had a future offensive lineman that's going to be a mainstay for us for years to come. It's just another way to get our best players on the field in certain situations."

Reiff has been excellent in his current role and it's one the Lions can utilize moving forward. But, at some point, the team's first-round draft pick has to see the field more if he continues to play as well as well as Schwartz said he did Sunday.

Before the season began, Schwartz said his best five linemen would play. Reiff seems to be knocking on that door. The benefit the Lions have when it comes to Reiff is that he can play either tackle spot or guard.

After Sunday's game, Reiff said he was just happy to get an opportunity to play and that he'll do whatever the coaches ask of him.

If he keeps playing like he did Sunday in Philadelphia, they might be asking a lot more.