Role players stepping up in Lombardi's eyes

Posted May 30, 2014

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi singled out Jeremy Ross, Kevin Ogletree and Theo Riddick as role players who've impressed him during OTAs.

Joe Lombardi had a good idea who his top offensive weapons were going to be and what they could do on a football field after inheriting them as the new offensive coordinator in late January.

Lombardi spent time with running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in New Orleans.

Who doesn’t know what Calvin Johnson can do?

“It’s really – you’ve got to be careful not to be a fan when you’re watching him because it’s really unbelievable when you see him in person,” Lombardi said of Johnson.

Jeremy RossWR Jeremy Ross (Photo: Detroit Lions)

He pushed for the team to sign Golden Tate in free agency and knew exactly the type of player they were getting by drafting tight end Eric Ebron No. 10 overall earlier this month.

Lombardi still had to figure out what he had with the complimentary pieces, however.

Two weeks into OTAs, Lombardi says there’s a few of those players who have stood out.

“Some of these other receivers are pretty impressive that I really hadn’t heard of,” he said after an open OTA practice this week. “You could really see a role with some of these guys that I wasn’t as familiar with.

“You know, I knew what Calvin Johnson was, obviously, or certainly had an idea. I had a lot of respect for Golden Tate. But there are some other guys, you know, at other skill positions that I’m pretty impressed with and excited to work with.”

Lombardi singled out receivers Jeremy Ross and Kevin Ogletree and running back Theo Riddick.

Ross was one of the best return men in the NFL the second half of the season last year, but caught just five passes for 59 yards and touchdown as a receiver.

The Lions like Ross’ size (6-0, 215) and run-after-the-catch potential in the slot, which could lead to a bigger role this year.

Ogletree showed some big-play potential at times last year after the Lions acquired him as a free agent Oct. 2. He had 13 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.

Riddick, a sixth-round draft pick by the Lions last year played his way into a multipurpose role in the backfield behind Bush and Bell.

“Jeremy (Ross), Kevin Ogletree are doing some good things,” Lombardi said. “Theo Riddick is a player that has some ability.”

“Obviously, I knew Reggie (Bush). I’m pretty excited about where he is physically. You haven’t been around a guy for a few years and he seems like the same kind of burst and quickness that I remember. So, all those things have been really good to see.”