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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Lions RB tandem offers another tough test for Vikings

By Matthew Coller

87 Since Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions midway through the 2015 season, running backs have been a major part of the passing game.

In Cooter’s first year, running back Theo Riddick caught 80 passes and Ameer Abdullah added 25 more. Detroit’s running back tandem both battled injuries last year, but Riddick grabbed 53 catches in 10 games and Abdullah had five in his only two contests.

This year Riddick and Abdullah are healthy and have been a key part of Detroit’s strong offensive start to the season in which they average 28.3 points per game.

“Both of them are really good,” Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “[Theo] Riddick, they like to spread him out a lot, run screens with him, make a lot of option routes. But they’re both similar guys – quick accelerators, catch the ball well, good on screens.”

Abdullah, a 5-foot-8 running back from Nebraska, leads the Lions in yards from scrimmage with 213 yards and Riddick has tacked on another 101 yards.

While both are versatile, it’s clear the Lions prefer to use Abdullah more as a runner and Riddick as essentially a receiver out of the backfield. Abdullah has 46 carries to Riddick’s 10 while Riddick is the team’s second-leading receiver with 13 catches.

The Vikings have already faced significant challenges out of the backfield thus far. In Week 1, they held Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to 53 yards rushing, then followed up by slowing down Le’Veon Bell to only 3.2 yards per carry.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph has taken care of business in the middle of the field, dominating opposing centers in the first three games . But Detroit’s running game is most threatening on the outsides, which will test linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.

On rushes inside the tackles, the Lions have one run over 10 yards, but they have four on the outsides and average 5.9 yards per carry when rushing outside to the right (according to SharpFootballStats.com).

Last year, the Vikings allowed Riddick 5.0 yards per carry in his two games against Minnesota but he only caught six passes for 19 yards. The Vikings will need to slow down both Riddick and Abdullah in order to contain Detroit’s offense on Sunday.

The post Lions RB tandem offers another tough test for Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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