By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick is in no hurry to jump on the Theo Riddick bandwagon.
One of the most discussed players this offseason thanks to visible improvement and rave reviews from teammates, Riddick does not let himself take any praise too seriously.
“I haven’t really proven anything,” Riddick said after another solid training camp practice Tuesday. “Those are just words.”
“Coming out of the backfield I’m very versatile, and I think that obviously will put pressure on defenses, but at the same time, I haven’t proven anything yet,” Riddick added. “I’m just excited to come out this year and hopefully play well.”
Riddick, whom the Lions drafted in the sixth round in 2013, attributes his improvement to the experience he gained last season.
“As a rookie, things are going a thousand miles per hour. Things have kind of slowed down and I’m starting to diagnose things a lot quicker,” Riddick said. “Instead of obviously thinking, I’m just playing.
“Just more comfortable,” Riddick added later. “Being in year two, I know what to expect from coaches. Having Coach [Curtis] Modkins come back is a very comforting thing. I know what he wants and, what can I say? I’m just trying to work my tail off.”
Riddick has an ideal role model at his position in Reggie Bush, who thrived in the dual role of a running back and receiver with the New Orleans Saints. The New Orleans offense is the basis for the new Lions offense, which is headed by former Saints quarterback coach Joe Lombardi, now Detroit’s offensive coordinator.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell did not act as if he would be surprised if Riddick enjoys a breakout season in 2014, but he said such success would be a result of Riddick’s development as much or more than the result of Riddick playing in a different offense.
“If he does flourish, it’s because of the system and the maturity, and things of that nature,” Caldwell said. “He’s maturing, he’s been in the league a little bit, and now he’s really feeling confident about what he’s doing. I do think I really feel good about him, and he’s going to continue to get better.”
While many predict Riddick will earn more of a role in the offense this season, Caldwell said he first noticed and appreciated Riddick when he watched film of Detroit’s special teams.
“Before coming here, there are a few guys that jump out at you on film, I was watching special teams, and every single time on the unit he’s on, he shows up,” Caldwell said. “He’s got intensity, he hustles, he’s got desire, toughness, all of those things and he’s a very, very capable runner. Also, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. (He’s) very tough to handle in one-on-one situations, so he had a great spring and we anticipate this fall he’s going to perform equally as well, so we’re excited about that.”