Theo Riddick impressing coaches and teammates with ability to run inside

Posted Aug 8, 2013

Riddick's versatility is what got him drafted, but his ability to run through the trenches has been impressive so far

The Lions drafted running back Theo Riddick in the sixth round of April's NFL Draft because of his versatility and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

While that versatility has shown through the first two weeks of camp, it's his ability to run between the tackles that's sticking out the most to coaches and teammates.

Theo RiddickRB Theo Riddick

"He doesn't run the ball like a rookie," said fellow running back Reggie Bush. "He has very good vision and he's a natural runner in-between the tackles.

"When I was a rookie, I wasn't as good as he is at running the ball. I was a natural playmaker, but I wasn't a natural in-between-the-tackles runner."

Riddick is fighting for a roster spot in a crowded Lions backfield that features established veterans like Bush, Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell and Montell Owens. He's trying to make the squad as the fifth running back, but will have competition for that spot from fellow rookie Steven Miller.

"I think Riddick has really stepped in during training camp and done some nice things," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "Particularly in the passing game."

Riddick rushed for 917 yards and five touchdowns last year as a senior at Notre Dame, but also caught 36 passes for 370 yards and two more scores.

It's that kind of adaptability that got him drafted, but his ability to run through the trenches has been impressive so far.

"I've been playing running back basically my whole life, so getting back there between the tackles, I feel comfortable," Riddick said after practice Wednesday.

"If there's a chance and an opportunity for me to bounce it (outside), then I'll bounce it, but in this league you have to go a lot more north and south than east and west."

There's usually an adjustment period that takes place before that kind of realization sets in for young runners, so Riddick seems ahead of the curve.

"I'm especially impressed with the way Theo is working," said Lions running backs coach and run game coordinator Curtis Modkins.

"I'd like to see it continue and see what happens when we get in the live bullets, but I've been impressed with what he's done so far, for sure."