Riley Reiff talks leadership, playing right tackle

Posted Aug 13, 2016

Tackle Riley Reiff spoke with the media Saturday about his switch to right tackle and the leadership role he's taken on.

When the Detroit Lions moved on from veterans Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims last offseason, Riley Reiff, in just his fourth season, became the elder statesman and unquestioned leader among a young offensive line group.

Reiff accepted that role with the same blue-collar mentality he has with everything else he’s been asked to do since arriving in Detroit as a first-round pick in 2012 -- Whether that means being a backup, a swing tackle or an eventual starter.

So, it’s no surprise he approached the switch from left tackle to right tackle this season with that same exact mentality.

“It’s coming in here and working with the guys,” Reiff said Saturday. “It’s just coming to work every day and trying to find ways to get better. Whether it’s film study. Whether it’s technique.

“It’s really boring, actually. It’s not some magical equation. I come in here and work hard and pay attention, listen and just try to make the group better.”

Reiff has been by far the most consistent player on Detroit’s offensive line through training camp, which isn’t much of a surprise. He started at left tackle the last three seasons, but the Lions moved him over to the right side to strengthen that position and allow first-round pick Taylor Decker to get himself acclimated to the left side.

“Very consistent, outstanding in terms of his leadership,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Reiff’s performance and mentality since switching to the right side.

“I can’t say enough good things about him, he’s really been excellent.”

Reiff, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, said it doesn’t matter to him what side he plays on as long as he can help the group get better and help the team win more games. That attitude has helped make his transition so smooth.

“I’m open for anything,” he said.

He’s also been very open to showing Decker the ropes and taking him under his wing. He said it’s the least he could do after Jeff Backus and others did the same thing for him early in his career.

“That’s what friends do for friends,” Reiff said. “We’re going to be there for (Decker). Just help him along the way. Taylor is going to be a great player. He’s a good piece to our group.”

Decker is going to have his ups and downs. Reiff knows that better than anyone having been in his shoes before. He also knows this offensive line still has some work to do before the season opener Sept. 11 in Indianapolis.

Now as a member of the team’s leadership council, it’s up to him as the leader of the offensive line to get them where they need to be to help this team win more games.

“I don’t know how much of a voice I have, but if a younger guy asks for my opinion, I try to rely back on my previous experience and what I’ve been through,” Reiff said.

"And if I can give them a good answer that will help them out, yeah, I take a lot of pride in helping people exceed.”