Two of Theo Riddick’s fellow Lions running backs tried to clarify which play from last Monday’s win over the Saints they had been asked to discuss.
“The one where he shook him?” Ameer Abdullah said.
“Oh, you talking about when he was giving out free passes to the skate park?” Joique Bell added.
On Riddick’s 21-yard catch, the way in which he dodged New Orleans linebacker Dannell Ellerbe can best be described in metaphors
Riddick put him on skates, as Bell said. He broke his ankles. He shook him out of his shoes.
Riddick’s juke move was so impressive that much of the home crowd reacted audibly, making the sound synonymous with jaw-dropping.
“He stuck him,” Lions defensive end Darryl Tapp said. “That dude went karaoke steps.”
On Sunday, Riddick will try to make other unsuspecting linebackers look foolish when the Lions play the 49ers at Ford Field (1 p.m., FOX).
The play seemed rather simple. Riddick caught a short stop route on the left side, and as Ellerbe ran toward him, Riddick took a big step with his right foot before speeding off to the left for a big gain.
“Just another day in the office, another day in Theo’s world,” Bell said.
Really, it just looked simple because such plays are becoming the norm. Whether he shakes a defender during his route or after, Riddick has made several defenders look foolish this year as he’s accumulated a career-high 605 receiving yards, second among running backs behind San Diego’s Danny Woodhead.
In his third NFL season, Riddick has seven receptions of 20-plus yards, tied for first among running backs along with Woodhead, Cincinnati’s Giovani Bernard and Cleveland’s Duke Johnson Jr.
Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said Riddick is tough for defenders to cover one-on-one, and with moves like the one Monday, teams occasionally have to keep two players looking at him, which can open opportunities for others.
“I probably had a smile on my face, maybe a fist pump,” Cooter said of his reaction to last week’s play before adding that Riddick “does that all the time.
“He’s a fun player to throw the ball to, and we’ve got to make sure we keep doing it.”
The Lions have thrown to Riddick 86 times this year, which is tied for third on the team and in the NFL behind Woodhead and Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman. Riddick had just 50 targets last year, and even though the Lions offense hasn’t performed up to standard all season, he’s been among the bright spots.
“I’m glad I’m not a linebacker anymore,” Tapp said. “Theo is so nasty, dude.”
49ers at Lions
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
Line: Lions by 10
Records: 49ers 4-10, Lions 5-9
Series: 49ers lead 36-26-1