Riddick embracing increased rushing role

Posted Jul 31, 2016

Running back Theo Riddick is embracing his increased role as a rusher, and putting the work in to get better.

Theo Riddick was on the field for 482 offensive snaps last season. Of those, the Lions handed him the football just 43 times. That comes out to roughly nine percent.

Of those 482 snaps, he ran a passing route 303 times, according to Pro Football Focus statistics, or roughly 63 percent. He was thrown at 94 times and led all running backs by hauling in 80 of those targets.

The Lions enter the 2016 season hoping for more balance and a little less predictability when it comes to Riddick the runner vs. the pass catcher.

“I think that you have to have balance,” head coach Jim Caldwell said when asked about Riddick being more involved in the run game. “I think that’s extremely important.

“In our system, the way in which we run it as well, we have to take advantage of the looks that give us that, where we can certainly get some advantages from angles, and things of that nature. You know, that’s a big part of it. I think you have to have some balance in the run game.”

Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said earlier this offseason that he planned to use Riddick more as a running threat this season. He received a ton a reps in OTAs and minicamp with Ameer Abdullah still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.

Giving Riddick more opportunities to make a play as a runner seems like a good idea given his ability in the open field, but Riddick also has to do his part and take advantage of those opportunities.

He averaged 2.8, 2.6 and 3.1 yards per carry over his first three seasons. That’s on 72 total carries, which is a small sample size, but those numbers have to improve.

Cooter believes the added reps Riddick received this offseason have helped Riddick become a better runner.

“I’m a big believer in reps,” Cooter said. “You know, I get better at things as I do them 10 times, 20 times, 100 times. I think everybody kind of does.

“The more reps he gets receiving a handoff and reading an outside zone or whatever run play you want to talk about, he’s going to get better at that and we can see it out here. I see it the more reps he gets, the better he’s getting.”

As for Riddick, he’s embraced the increased rushing role, and has put the work in to get better.

“A lot of film study,” he said. “And being consciences of detail. That goes a long way. I’m just ready when my number is called and whatever happens, happens.”

Abdullah is still expected to be the featured back. Veteran Stevan Ridley brings a power element to the backfield that will be utilized.

We know Riddick is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league today. Will he show this season that he can be a complete running back?  

Note: Riddick sat out of Sunday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, but head coach Jim Caldwell said he’ll be OK.