Lions HC Jim Caldwell calls RB Theo Riddick 'the lead guy'

ESPN - [Full Article]

The Lions lost their most complete back Wednesday when Ameer Abdullah was placed on injured reserve. It leaves three backs for Detroit to use: Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner.

Of the three, Riddick has the most experience and Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday that Riddick will be "the lead guy" in Detroit. But others will get work, too.

Zenner has shown power. Washington has a combination of size and speed. But none of them have been in a lead role before in the NFL.

To help reinforce the thought the Lions needed complete backs, Walker spent time this offseason working with Riddick -- a premier pass-catcher -- on moving his eyes to the proper position to see holes. He worked with him on how to set up defenders to make his blocks even more useful and how to see the developing creases set up by offensive linemen faster.

“When we’re sitting in the film room and we have a clicker in our hand and we can pause stuff and see things, that’s one way,” Walker said. “But guys gotta be able to make split-second decisions on the field and he’s learning where to put his eyes to help him make those split-second decisions.”

So far, Riddick has been a superior runner to what he’s done in the past. He’s averaging 4.56 yards per carry. More importantly, he looks more confident as a rusher than he ever has in the past, too. It helps that he’s being used in a variety of ways now as a runner instead of mostly as a third-down or two-minute runner, as he was in the past.

Riddick said his improved vision comes from Walker's teachings.

Fantasy Impact: 

The Lions are willing to give Riddick carries this year (9.0 per game) after he averaged just 2.7 carries per game last season. The early returns are good, but a Week 1 matchup with the Colts has a lot to do with his 4.6 YPC. We expect Washington to see 8-12 touches per game, but he'll have to hold off Zach Zenner as the goal line back to have weekly fantasy value. Week 3 is shaping up to be a "Riddick game" since the Lions are expected to be playing from behind for most of the day.

Filed Under: 2016, W3

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