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Lions’ Jim Caldwell on Theo Riddick: He’s going to force us to get him the ball

Theo Riddick‘s number has not been called a lot since being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2013, but he has made the most of the opportunities he’s been given. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell believes the young running back could force their hand in 2015.

Last week at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Caldwell talked to reporters about Riddick and the chances of his role being expanded for the upcoming season.

“I can’t tell you he’s going to carry the ball 50 more times, or I can’t tell you he’s going to get the ball thrown to him 30 more times, until we have a chance to work through this gauntlet. Know what I mean?” Caldwell said.

The gauntlet that Caldwell mentioned is the remainder of the free agency period and the NFL Draft. Since the release of veteran running back Reggie Bush, many “experts” have speculated the Lions will select a running back in the upcoming draft. Some even have the team taking a running back with their first pick.

2013 was Riddick’s first season in the league after being selected in the sixth round by the Lions and he struggled to make much of an impact. He had a total of 13 touches for 51 yards and one touchdown while playing in 14 games. In 2014, Riddick’s production increased exponentially, as he garnered 54 total touches for 367 total yards and four touchdowns, also in 14 games. Most of his success came in the passing game as he caught 34 balls.

Caldwell has not only taken notice of Riddick’s production on the field, but of his work ethic off the field and he expects this trend to continue moving forward.

“I will say that he’s going to improve. He has all the qualities. Here’s the thing — if you’re smart, if you’re tough, if you’re disciplined, if you have a great work ethic, there’s improvement ahead. And he has all those things. So I think he’s going to improve, and I think he’s going to force us to get him the ball a little bit more in some situations.”

If Riddick is able to continue to improve the way he did between his first two seasons in the league, the Lions could really have something special going for them. His teammate Joique Bell is more of a between the tackles type of running back, which made Reggie Bush a nice complement when healthy, because he was able to catch passes out of the backfield. Theo Riddick, who is a bit shorter than Bush, presents the same problem for opposing defenses as he excels in the passing game and can spread the field.

What the Lions decide to do in the upcoming draft will greatly impact how much Riddick gets the ball in the 2015 season. If they do draft a running back high, Riddick could suffer a bit. That being said, Caldwell loves the kid’s progress and Riddick is sure to get his chance to make something happen.

 

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