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Lions' Joique Bell: Theo Riddick has Pro Bowl potential

The soothsayer hat looks good on NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah. The Theo Riddick hype train that Jeremiah was conducting earlier this offseason is now barreling down the hillside, threatening to careen out of control.

Reggie Bush predicted a month ago that Riddick would have a major role in the Detroit Lions' passing game as well as the rushing attack.

Another backfield mate, Joique Bell, told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday that Riddick has the potential to be a "Pro Bowler" and a "great running back in this league" if the 2013 sixth-round draft pick continues to develop.

"His body is in great shape, probably 7 (percent) body fat," Bell said. "You see his route running from out the backfield, it's really crisp. He looks like a Reggie (Bush).

"Just some of the moves you see him do in practice against some of the linebackers. We sit back in the meeting room, we sit back we laugh. He gets them every time with the same move, like you can't stop it. You can't stop it."

Appearing on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast earlier this week, Lions backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky corroborated Bell's account of Riddick as uncoverable in offseason practices.

With new coordinator Joe Lombardi importing the Saints' offense to Motown, Riddick is expected to play the Darren Sproles role in a three-headed backfield.

"I'm telling you, if he doesn't have 50 catches this year, I'll be surprised because he's going to have opportunities and he's very talented at it," Orlovsky said. "I think he's going to play that Sproles role, for sure."

It strains credulity that a timeshare running back would have more receptions (50) in his second season than snaps (49) in his first season, but Orlovsky insists there are specific packages drawn up to put the ball in Riddick's hands.

"He's going to have eight passes a game," Orlovsky said, "whether they're screens, whether they're one-on-ones, whether they're checkdowns, where they're going to be pass plays called for him."

Riddick has the talent to shine with the ball in his hands in space. We have no doubt that he did just that in non-contact offseason drills. He wouldn't be the first player with that skill-set to find the sledding much tougher once the hitting starts and the spaces dry up in regular-season action.

The testimony of teammates suggests Riddick is indeed ticketed for a breakout season. If that happens -- and is coupled with the additions of Eric Ebron and Golden Tate as major upgrades in the aerial attack -- the Lions' offense will be the league's most improved.

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