LIONS INSIDER

Theo Riddick shows why teammates, coaches high on him

Posted Aug 16, 2014

Theo Riddick didn’t play much last week because of an abdominal injury, but it only took one play this week in Oakland to show why coaches and teammates are so high on the young running back.

Theo Riddick didn’t play much last week because of an abdominal injury, but it only took one play this week in Oakland to show why coaches and teammates are so high on the young running back.
Theo RiddickRB Theo Riddick (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Riddick caught a screen pass from quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the first Lions possession of the second half Friday night in Oakland and turned it into a 36-yard gain. The second-year running back out of Notre Dame made four defenders miss on the play and covered about 100 yards total after completely reversing the field and weaving in and out of defenders.

“I ran a lot for only 40 (yards),” Riddick said with a chuckle after Saturday’s short afternoon practice.

“I got out there in open space and just tried to make some plays. Just get out in open space and try to be creative.”

He was certainly that. The play set up a 1-yard George Winn touchdown run two plays later to help the Lions build a 23-10 lead at the time.

“I think he had maybe seven plays (Friday night) or something around there, but he was obviously able to make an impact while he was in,” head coach Jim Caldwell said.

“You see he has the potential to certainly gain quite a bit of yardage for us. He’s a guy that’s multi-talented. He can catch the ball well, he’s a good route runner and he can also run it from scrimmage. He does a good job for us, and he plays special teams. He’s a pretty well-rounded guy.”

Riddick played just four plays last week vs. Cleveland before leaving with an abdominal injury after taking a vicious hit from Cleveland safety Donte Whitner after a 9-yard catch.

The Lions have a crowded backfield filled with some talented players, but Riddick’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and add something special as a receiving threat sets him apart a little bit.

Much like Reggie Bush, Riddick is a big threat in space, and the fact that he played two years of slot receiver at Notre Dame is certainly evident when watching him in the pass game.

“It helped tremendously,” Riddick said of playing receiver in college. “Tons of reading coverages, catching the ball in general and also catching the ball in traffic. Obviously spending two years there at wide receiver has elevated my game.”

If the first two preseason games are any indication, the Lions plan to use a lot of different personnel packages in an attempt to get a lot of different players involved in the scheme.

If Riddick continues to make the kind of plays he did Friday night, he’ll continue to be a big part of the game plan moving forward.

EXTRA POINTS

--Caldwell held a 40-minute practice Saturday afternoon, even after a long road trip, because he wanted to keep the schedule the same for the players in terms of what they can expect from a typical short Monday practice in the regular season.

He also said there are times when minor injuries aren't noticed from the day before until players get out on the field the next day and run a little bit.

On that front, the Lions didn't suffer any significant injuries Friday in Oakland.

--The Lions signed linebacker Shamari Benton (Central Michigan) and released linebacker Justin Jackson.

Benton totaled 111 tackles for the Chippewas last year, his second straight 100-tackle season.