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Marshall Faulk: Lions RB Theo Riddick is 'phenomenal'

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Theo Riddick's emergence as perhaps the NFL's most effective receiving back was an overlooked story in a lost 2015 Detroit Lions season.

The former Notre Dame star set franchise records for receptions (80) and receiving yards (697) by a running back, tying for the league lead in the former and finishing second only to Danny Woodhead's 755 in the latter.

"Theo is phenomenal," NFL Media analyst Marshall Faulk said recently, via MLive.com. "Man, I love how he plays the game."

Every game, all season

One of the most versatile backs in pro football history, Faulk holds the NFL tailback record for receiving yards in a season (1,048) as well as a career (6,875).

He sees some of those same qualities in Riddick.

"You can tell that at one point in time, at Notre Dame, he was just a receiver," Faulk explained. "Because he catches the ball without thought. I think he could play slot receiver and catch the same 80 balls. He has those abilities."

Riddick isn't in Faulk's class as a runner. In fact, he has averaged a futile 2.9 yards per carry in three years with the Lions, failing to rush more than seven times in any 2015 game.

It's fitting that he picked up where Patriots star scatback Dion Lewis left off at midseason, however, as an incredibly smooth and elusive pass catcher out of the backfield. Under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Riddick essentially plays the pass-catching specialist role in which Lewis, Shane Vereen and Kevin Faulk have excelled as a sidecar to Tom Brady on third downs and in two-minute drills.

If the Lions upgrade the interior of the offensive line and find a power back to replace Joique Bell, they could boast one of the most improved backfields with Riddick and sharp cutting second-year back Ameer Abdullah leading the way.

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