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Lions' Theo Riddick 'too good' not to be on field

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Theo Riddick

Allen Park — Lions backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky was one of the main conductors of the Theo Riddick hype train during the 2014 offseason.

And even though the Lions drafted running back Ameer Abdullah in the second round this year, Orlovsky isn't jumping off Riddick's bandwagon just yet.

"Theo is too good to not put on the field," Orlovsky said Tuesday after the Lions' first organized team activity practice. "Theo has stuff that you can't coach, that you can't teach, that you're born from God with. He just has an ability to get open better than everyone else."

Last year, Orlovsky predicted that Riddick would have 50 catches in 2014, which seemed like a high mark for the 2013 sixth-round pick who started the season behind Joique Bell and Reggie Bush. Riddick finished the year with 34 catches for 316 yards and four touchdowns and certainly proved capable of being more involved in the passing game.

Orlovsky thought Riddick would be similar to what Darren Sproles was in the Saints' offense, and although he didn't quite reach that level, his performance did add another dimension to the offense last season.

Even though the Lions cut Bush, Abdullah presents yet another hurdle. Abdullah has some of the same shiftiness of Riddick, but the Lions trust his ability to run between the tackles, which will help him be involved as a rookie.

Still, Orlovsky expects Riddick to continue to carve out a bigger role than he had in 2014.

"I think Theo will have like 60 catches," he said. "He's a pretty good player."

At the NFL annual meetings in March, Lions coach Jim Caldwell wouldn't commit to Riddick having a larger role with Bush gone, but said he'll have a chance to earn more playing time.

"I think he'll force us to get him the ball a little bit more in some situations," Caldwell said.

Notable

Orlovsky and his wife are expecting a baby girl. It will be the couple's fourth child after having triplets in December 2011, and the baby is due around when the Lions play in London.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein