Riley Reiff is ready to step into a starter's role

Posted Mar 28, 2013

Second-year pro Riley Reiff is ready to take the next step of his development into a starting position. The only question is which position that will be.

Riley Reiff has made Metro Detroit his new home so he can be around the team's Allen Park practice facility full-time during the offseason.
Riley ReiffT Riley Reiff (G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Where his new home will be along the Lions' revamped offensive line is still a mystery, though. As of right now, the team's first-round draft pick from a season ago could wind up at either tackle spot, or even right guard.

"On the one hand, it's great he can play so many positions," Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of Reiff. "On the other hand, it's really causing a problem because he probably wants to know where he plays more than anybody else so he can start preparing himself mentally for that.

"I guess we'll have to wait and see. I can see him at left tackle, but we'll have to wait and see how things go."

Left tackle seems the likely landing spot at this point with the retirement of Jeff Backus two weeks ago.

Reiff was drafted to eventually replace Backus, filling in for him at left tackle when Backus missed last year's Thanksgiving Day game due to a hamstring injury.

But the Lions are still leaving their options open. Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox will also compete for those vacant tackle spots and there's the potential of drafting another tackle with the fifth-overall pick in next month's NFL Draft.

That has Reiff in a minor state of limbo.

"It would be nice to know if you're playing an exact position, but you have to earn that," Reiff told "I can play guard or tackle. I just want to help the team any way I can if it's right guard, right tackle, left tackle, whatever it is.

"I'm truly excited for this upcoming training camp to get after it. Looking forward to the challenge and I need to step up to the plate."

The Lions' offensive line will look much different than it did a season ago and they'll need a number of young players to "step up to the plate."

Backus is now gone and so are right guard Stephen Peterman (released) and right tackle Gosder Cherilus (signed with Colts).

Veteran center Dominic Raiola and left guard Rob Sims are the only starters back along the offensive line from 2012.

Reiff handled himself fairly well in that one start at left tackle last season, though he might disagree.

"Anytime you get your shoes wet its great," he said of the start. "I'd consider it so-so, though. I've watched that game a few times."

This much is known: Reiff will start somewhere in 2013, but exactly where is still up in the air.

"We do value versatility and that's one of the reasons we drafted him," Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Reiff.

"He can play three positions along the line – left tackle, right tackle and I think he can play guard. I think if you give him a good, solid year, he could play center. He's that good of an athlete.

"He is a little bit in limbo, but we're not practicing right now. It's not like he's being set back. It's not like we're spinning our wheels with him playing defensive line or something like that. All of our guys are just training and conditioning on their own. There is really no setback. We cross-trained him at a lot of positions last year."

Reiff has been at the team's training facility in Allen Park on a daily basis this offseason preparing himself for all potential scenarios.

"Right now you're watching film of things you could have done better," he said. "Not only watching yourself, but the whole play. Keep your memory fresh on the calls and the plays you're running, the assignments and stuff. Then watching technique and footwork and stuff like that.

"I'm just ready to step up full time now and be the player they drafted me to be."