LIONS INSIDER

Will Theo Riddick's impressive spring performance translate to training camp?

Posted Jun 24, 2014

Theo Riddick, the second-year running back out of Notre Dame, was an impressive performer for the Lions in OTAs and minicamp. But will it translate to training camp and the regular season?

Playing well in the spring for OTAs and minicamp in helmets and shorts doesn’t always translate to success in late summer and the fall when the pads come on and the competition stiffens.

There have been many spring stars in the NFL who haven’t turned into regular season studs.

Theo Riddick, the second-year running back out of Notre Dame, was an impressive performer for the Lions in OTAs and minicamp.

“He’s certainly done well,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Riddick. “He’s had a very good spring. As a matter of fact, even in my preliminary evaluation just watching him in special teams last year, he jumps out at you.”

But will it translate to training camp and the regular season?

Riddick benefited from an increased workload this offseason while Joique Bell recouped from a knee injury. He impressed coaches and teammates and is likely to see his role increased in training camp because of it. From there it's up to him to define what his role could be in the regular season.

Theo RiddickRB Theo Riddick (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“He’s eager, he’s hungry, he’s tough, he can run,” Caldwell said. “He’s a very, very fine route-runner. He can catch the ball. He’s had a real fine spring, so I hope he continues to develop. We think he will.”

But Caldwell also cautioned about reading too much into spring performances.

"This game’s not played in shorts," he said. "I can’t tell a whole lot about everybody until we get the pads on."

Last year, Riddick played sparingly at running back behind Reggie Bush and Bell, but did find a role as a core special teams player.

He won’t get quite the workload he did this spring when Bell gets back on the field in training camp, but it should still be significantly larger than last year.

Riddick is a player who should benefit from a new coaching staff and a new scheme.

The Lions offense will look similar to New Orleans and the Saints did a great job last season of defining roles for their quartet of running backs – Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson and Darren Sproles – and spreading the wealth. Each had at least 53 carries.

Bush had 223 carries for the Lions last season and Bell had 166. It was a formula that worked in Detroit, as Bush and Bell became the first running back tandem to each rush for 500 yards and catch 500 yards worth of passes. However, the next highest carries among Lions running backs was Riddick’s nine for 25 yards.

If New Orleans is the model, expect Riddick and even veteran Mikel Leshoure to play a bigger part in the offense as the Lions try to establish specific roles for their running backs and get more runners involved.

Riddick, with his vision and skills as a receiver, could see instant benefits from a change in both scheme and philosophy.