ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Theo Riddick proved he could be an effective, pass-catching running back last season.
Riddick caught 80 receptions for the Detroit Lions in 2015, his third year in the league.
Until Ameer Abdullah was hurt last week, though, Riddick hadn’t carried the ball more than seven times in a game.
That is about to change.
The Lions, without Abdullah for at least eight weeks, are giving Riddick a chance to be an every-down running back in the NFL.
“I think you’ve seen he’s more than capable,” coach Jim Caldwell said.
The Lions put running back Abdullah on the reserve-injured list with a foot injury Wednesday, pushing Riddick up the depth chart.
Abdullah hurt his left foot on a 24-yard run in the second quarter of a loss Sunday to Tennessee and didn’t return. The 2015 second-round pick ran for 101 yards on 18 carries and had five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown for the Lions (1-1) this season.
Riddick will likely replace Abdullah in the starting lineup Sunday at Green Bay (1-1) and will be backed up by rookie Dwayne Washington.
“He definitely fits the way they like to play,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, “with this scheme and the ability to spread the ball around and create favorable looks for the running back position, Theo does a great job of taking advantage of that.”
The 5-foot-9, 201-pound Riddick had a career-high 11 carries for 37 yards against the Titans and caught four passes for 28 yards. In the season-opening win at Indianapolis, he matched a career high with seven rushing attempts and had 108 yards of offense and two scores.
“Every time we hand him the ball, he seems like he’s picking up positive yards,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He’s doing it in the passing game like he always has, but doing a really nice job in the run game.”
Washington is a 6-1, 223-pound powerful runner, giving Detroit a complement to Riddick’s ability to juke defenders and run past them. Washington, a seventh-round pick from Washington, has carried the ball six times for 32 yards and a score. He earned a spot Stevan Ridley was expected to have this season.
Zach Zenner, who was inactive for the first two games, gives the Lions another option out of the backfield. The former South Dakota State star made Detroit’s team as an undrafted free agent and started in one game and played in five more, getting 17 carries for 60 yards before broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung ended his season. Zenner insisted playing in the preseason this year prepared him to play at Green Bay in what would be his first NFL game since Oct. 18, 2015.
“Somebody has to take a few more carries than they would have ordinarily,” Caldwell said. “And, obviously I think we have a number of guys that can do that for us.”
The Lions signed wide receiver Aaron Dobson to take Abdullah’s roster spot. The New England Patriots, with current Detroit general manager Bob Quinn, drafted Dobson in the second round three years ago. He had 53 catches for 698 yards and four touchdowns from 2013 to 2015 with the Patriots.
NOTES: The Lions practiced without defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy, two of their best players on defense. Ansah played very little Sunday against Tennessee before leaving the game with an injured left ankle. Levy was inactive against the Titans because of a quadriceps injury. … Detroit added depth at running back by signing George Winn to its practice squad along with linebacker Zaviar Gooden. The Lions released receiver Isaac Fruechte and guard Chase Farris from the practice squad.