Theo Riddick may be one of the most important players on the Detroit Lions offense going forward and looks like the most reliable running back on the roster. Injuries to both Zach Zenner and Joique Bell, and Ameer Abdullah’s inability to hold on the ball has decimated what seemed to be a promising running back corps at the beginning of the season.
Riddick came in to the season as the Lions third choice running back, and he was to be only used to catch passes out of the backfield. Joique Bell was the starter week one, with Ameer Abdullah the promising rookie to get touches after him. Abdullah had a great start to the season, and even scored a 24 yard touchdown run on his first career carry. But Abdullah has had trouble holding on to the ball, and has committed four fumbles. His troubles holding onto the ball has seen Abdullah being put on the bench midway through the Lions last two games. Promising rookie Zach Zenner was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a cracked rib, and with Joique Bell’s health in question, the Lions have one option.
Throughout his career, Riddick has more receptions than carries, and he has never regularly gotten carries on any team he has been on. But that may change this season. As long as Bell is out, the Lions do not have anyone that they can trust as an every down back. In the Lions week 6 win against the Bears, Riddick had a career high seven carries after Abdullah was benched. Seven carries for 28 yards is not much, but it could be the beginning of something new in the Lions offense.
The Lions have one of the worst rushing games in the NFL, and with Abdullah slowly losing carries as he struggles, Riddick will be forced to step up in the rushing game. Riddick possesses the speed needed to break free for big plays, and has the tools to beat tacklers in the open field. Riddick will most likely set another career high in carries on Sunday against Minnesota, and the back who was once only used as an option out of the backfield has now become a crucial part of the offense.
If Riddick puts up big numbers on Saturday, then he will slide into the starting role. The Lions need someone to ignite their running game this season, and Riddick may be the answer.