2016 stats: 10 games, 92 carries, 357 rushing yards, one touchdown. 53 receptions, 371 yards, five touchdowns.
Throughout the course of the 2016 season, Lions running back Theo Riddick continued to cement his status as one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league. His 371 receiving yards ranked 12th highest among running backs. One can only imagine where he would have ranked if he was able to play an entire season, but Riddick’s season came to a screeching halt after just 10 games. The team held out hope that he would be able to return at some point in the final weeks of the season, but the wrist injury ultimately landed him on injured reserve on December 31.
Likely Riddick’s biggest asset, his open-field playmaking ability, was on full display numerous times this season. Whether in the run game or after a reception, he has an uncanny ability to flat out make defenders miss. While he is not the prototypical every-down back that every team would love to have, he plays an important role. His playmaking role was on full display when he scored this touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles this season:
— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) October 10, 2016
Obviously, his open-field ability has always been better suited in the passing game, as there isn’t nearly as much space in the box as there is on the outside. This is a big reason as to why he has yet to make a big splash in the rushing game, although he was on pace for 600 or so yards on the ground before his injury this season.
While it’s hard to give a full assessment on Riddick after just 10 games, it goes without saying that his role is unreplaceable in Detroit. When he is not on the field, it is quite apparent that there is a an important piece missing.
2017 will be an important season for Riddick, who will have plenty of competition for reps with the return of Ameer Abdullah, and the emergence of youngsters Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter will need to continue finding ways to get him the ball in space, and he will surely continue providing us with highlight reel plays, which has become nothing but the norm for Riddick.