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Lions OC wants Theo Riddick more involved in run game

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No one will confuse Theo Riddick for Todd Gurley.

The Detroit Lions' scat back led the NFL with 80 receptions out of the backfield in 2015, earning 697 yards receiving, averaging 8.7 yards per catch. A between-the-tackles runner the 25-year-old is not. Riddick carried a career-high 43 times for 133 yards, a paltry 3.1 yards per run (also a career-high) last season.

Despite not producing on the ground, Riddick was a matchup nightmare for defenses last year, continually burning linebackers. However, as every NFL defensive player will note, when the back was in the contest, it was a dead giveaway the play would likely be a pass.

Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter would like to change that telegraph into a curveball a bit more in 2016.

"Yeah, I believe he will," Cooter said when asked if Riddick would tote the rock more this season, via the Detroit Free Press. "We're still kind of ironing that out and getting all our reps out here and kind of letting it shake out how it shakes out. But I think Theo can be a really successful runner."

At 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Riddick gets swallowed up between the tackles. If Cooter plans to hand the ball off to the satellite back more this year, he'll have to design space and hope his run blocking improves drastically from last season.

"Obviously, all you guys know it, he caught the ball really well last year, was really successful for us in the pass game, and we've got to find a better way to let him be successful in the run game," Cooter said. "I think he's doing a really good job learning and executing and getting better out here, and I see him making strides in the run game."

Riddick's role running the rock could be necessary with Ameer Abdullah returning from offseason shoulder surgery. Recent history shows running backs coming off shoulder injuries often struggle.

We expect Detroit to get Riddick on the field plenty in 2016. The back is too big a mismatch to ignore. With a hole at receiver behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, Riddick should see time in the slot as well this season.

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