Lions fortify running attack with Riley Reiff
NOV 05, 2012 3:42p ET
The Detroit Lions have been doing that more and more in recent weeks, and it paid off in Sunday's 31-14 victory at Jacksonville with a season-high 149 yards rushing.
Coach Jim Schwartz said rookie offensive tackle Riley Reiff, the club's first-round draft pick, deserves a lot of credit for that production. Reiff (6-foot-6, 313 pounds) has been entering the game at times as an "eligible receiver" to give the Lions some more beef up front.
When Reiff is in there, the weight of the Lions' offensive line soars to 1,873 pounds.
"He's given our run game an incredible boost," Schwartz said Monday during his weekly news conference. "The offensive line has blocked very well. I think we've seen probably the most consistent and most productive run game since I've been here. A lot of it has to do with attitude upfront. Riley's a big part of that."
Reiff has actually started three of the last five games. He's officially listed as a "tight end" on the stat sheet in those situations, but the Lions have yet to throw a pass to him.
He's been in there strictly to block. His role keeps expanding because he's proven he can get the job done.
Reiff played in 33 of the Lions' 72 offensive plays against the Jaguars. It's no coincidence that he was blocking on all four of Detroit's rushing touchdowns.
"He's contributed in a lot of different ways, mainly because he's a good player, particularly the edge," Schwartz said. "This game, they were trying to clog up the middle. We had to bounce it outside or cut it back. That's hard to do without an edge blocker.
"Riley's made a big difference for us there, in addition to his pass blocking. We're not just one-dimensional when he goes on the field. It's not always a run. He can protect up and we have the ability to take shots down the field."
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had no tackles Sunday, but that wasn't necessarily a reflection of how he played, according to Schwartz.
"I thought those guys all played well," Schwartz said of the defensive line. "We weren't around the quarterback but a lot of that had to do with them throwing it quick.
"If you want to negate a pass rush, you certainly can do it. It's just how many plays can you make down the field? It's hard to get productive yards.
"We're not judged by the stat sheet. We're just trying to do what we can to win the game. I thought our defensive line did a good job."
... Cornerback Jonte Green, a sixth-round pick from New Mexico State, has been forced to grow up quickly because of all the injuries in the secondary. He played nearly 80 percent of the defensive snaps.
Green made his first career interception, but that's not what impressed his coach the most.
"I thought he tackled very well this week," Schwartz said. "He stopped a couple third downs that way. We forced them to throw balls in front (of the first-down marker). That doesn't do a whole lot of good if you don't step up and make a tackle.
"He has improved from week to week. He's playing with some confidence. That comes from experience."
... Schwartz, on how receiver Calvin Johnson is recovering after playing 60 plays despite an injured left knee. "He's no worse for the wear."
... Schwartz said safety Amari Spievey still hasn't been cleared to return after suffering a concussion in the Oct. 22 game at Chicago.
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