What the future holds at the running back position in Detroit after this season is somewhat up in the air after the Lions have struggled once again to get any consistent footing with their ground game this year.
There certainly could be some new faces in Detroit's backfield next season, but through all the struggles this year, veteran Theo Riddick continues to prove his worth as a two-way weapon in Detroit's backfield.
Riddick has taken on a bigger role the last few weeks with starter Ameer Abdullah first suffering a neck injury, and then being relegated to a reduced role upon his return.
Riddick played in less than half of the Lions' offensive snaps the first 12 weeks of the season, but over the last three weeks, in games in Baltimore, in Tampa Bay and against Chicago, Riddick has played in 63, 71 and 52 percent of the team's snaps on offense. He's rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns, and has another 14 catches for 117 yards over that stretch. That's without playing the entire second half in last week's win over Chicago due to a wrist injury.
"Yeah, Theo's been important," Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said this week of Riddick's recent stretch of games. "Theo's made some really nice plays.
"Theo's taking on a little bit more of a role of getting the ball a little bit more often these past couple of weeks and he's doing a nice job with that. Obviously, we would like to protect the ball better last week, but Theo's making a bunch of plays, and he's made a lot of plays around here in the past and I expect him to continue."
Despite missing the second half last week, Riddick has been a full participant in practice this week. That's good news for a Lions offense that's relied on him more and more down the stretch. They don't have anyone else on offense who can do quite what he does as a dual-threat player as well as he does it.
"I think anytime that we have a guy that's been as productive as he is on the field for us, it's a good thing," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of Riddick's availability for practice this week.
"He helps us in so many different ways, not just as a ball carrier but obviously out of the backfield as a receiver. He creates issues for the opposition, they have to really take a look at how they want to cover him, what they want to do to him to kind of slow him down, and anytime that that occurs, that helps us."
LOOKING FOR CONSISTENCY
Coaches always say the best ability is availability. When it comes to Lions guard/center Graham Glasgow, he's consistently been the most available of all Detroit's offensive linemen this season. In fact, he's the only starter this year who hasn't missed a game. His importance has been magnified even more when factoring in his ability to rotate between guard and center without skipping a beat.
"It's been kind of a natural position for him, and I think once you've done it and done it a considerable amount of times, you can adjust," Caldwell said of Glasgow.
"He also, he plays right next to him (center Travis Swanson), so they're relevant calls that are basically between guard and center that work, and he understands them. Obviously, you have to in order to play next to him, adjacent to him, so I think there's a lot of common ground there."
While Glasgow's availability has certainly been consistent all season, he says he's still searching to become a more consistent player when it comes to his performance on the field.
"I'm not going to say it's easy," Glasgow said Thursday of the back and forth between guard and center. "But I think it's something I've learned to get better at. I mean I still have to improve on it and I still have a lot of things I need to get better at at center and things I need to get better at guard. It's something I try to improve on every day and every week."
Consistency from week to week is what he's looking to improve the most.
"I just need to get better at that," he said.
Looking at Glasgow's Pro Football Focus weekly grading chart, he's earned a positive grade from the website in eight contests and a negative grade in six.
Overall, PFF has credited Glasgow with allowing three sacks, five quarterback hits and 17 hurries in 14 games. Two of those hits and four of the hurries came against Tampa Bay a couple weeks ago, Glasgow's worst graded performance of the year by PFF. Take that performance out, and Glasgow has a positive grade overall on the year.
He's arguably been one of Detroit's most valuable linemen this season because of what's he's been asked to do from week to week.
The Lions have selected receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (offense), tight end Darren Fells (offense), cornerback Darius Slay (defense) and cornerback Nevin Lawson (special teams) as captains for Sunday's game in Cincinnati.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30's in Cincinnati Sunday with a 50 percent chance of snow. Caldwell was asked by a reporter Friday how he stays warm on the sideline in those cold temperature games. Caldwell had a pretty good response.
"I'm from Wisconsin," he said.