Has the Riley Reiff era at left tackle begun in Detroit?

Posted by ttwentyman on March 14, 2013 – 6:09 pm

Has the Riley Reiff era at left tackle begun for the Detroit Lions?

We all figured that last’s year’s first-round draft pick was going to start somewhere along the offensive line in 2013, we just didn’t know where.

With Thursday’s announcement that longtime starting left tackle Jeff Backus has decided to retire, it’s looking more like left tackle might be the landing spot.

At the very least, Reiff is a prime candidate to compete for either vacant tackle spot with Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard.

Reiff started at left tackle on Thanksgiving last year when Backus missed his first NFL game after 187 (including playoffs) consecutive starts.

“We’re prepared for just about anything as far as turnover on the offensive line, or turnover anywhere,” Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz told the media down at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“I think that we’ve drafted on the offensive line, last year with Riley Reiff, and a couple years before that with Jason Fox. We’ve developed those guys and if we can plug them in, we’re prepared to do it. All of those guys are guys that we think a lot of and we think that they can go do the job if called upon.”

Reiff impressed enough early in his rookie year the Lions created a special jumbo package to get him on the field when he didn’t supplant Backus or Gosder Cherilus (signed with Colts in free agency) in the starting lineup.

Reiff played 329 snaps in all in 2012 and it was enough for his teammates to vote him the Mel Farr Rookie of the Year for 2012.

“Obviously we drafted Riley Reiff last year,” Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand said Thursday when asked about replacing Backus. “We’ve got Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard. We’ve got some good competition there.”

But don’t count out the possibility of the Lions adding a tackle to the roster before training camp starts, possibly via the draft if Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher are available when the Lions pick at No. 5.

“As Martin (Mayhew) has said consistently, there is no finish line when it comes to player acquisition,” Lewand said. “We have a lot of opportunity going forward to look at adding to the mix on the offensive line, both outside and inside.”

Taking a player like Joeckel or Fisher at No. 5 would allow the Lions to move Reiff to the right side at either guard or tackle and fill one of those holes with a good, young player.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 36 Comments »

36 Responses to “Has the Riley Reiff era at left tackle begun in Detroit?”

  1. By stafffan on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    Short and sweet! PROTECT STAFFORD!

  2. By Me on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    No, but the Luke Joeckel one has.

  3. By Me on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    lol but seriously Chance Warmack is pretty good.

  4. By lionsgonewild on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply


  5. By connor on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    for a guy who started 1 game all yr at that spot…also to someone who has not

    there goes the lions getting the players they need when they dont even have a #1 LT on there roster

  6. By connor on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    guy played in all 16 we know the Lions went 4-12 but when this guy was starting there Record was 2-6…..so even this guys not the answer

  7. By baskingunderabigsky on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    I don’t know how viable it is to start a rookie at LT. Cherilus at RT had a career year last year and effectively played himself out of the Lions budget. Backus was Backus was what he usually was , steady and unspectacular. Schwartz put a premium on keeping together an experienced OL that had a lot of starts(cohesiveness) together. That meant they used Reiff in jumbo packages and at several different positions. I think Backus will be your starter at LT regardless of who they pick at #5. Personally, I’d rather them sign a quality FA at tackle or guard than try to plug in back ups, Reiff, and a rookie in those three open spots.
    Reiff will likely start at LT, Hilliard or Fox at RT, but guard is still very much open. I’d like them to take the BPA(assuming he’s a DE/LB or Milliner)at #5), and if that’s not a tackle then take a DE and move up to take a quality guard. Goodman and Womack look like the best guards available. You take say, Milliner at #5, Womack late in the first along with the signees in free agency and this team will be better. Not going to fill every hole in one draft.

  8. By geoff on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    Assuming the Lions can’t get Joeckel or Fisher at #5 overall, LOT has got to be Riley’s job. Guard starts to look thin (without Reiff in the mix) and assuming there isn’t a sure fire guy at DE, why not take Chance Warmack with the 1st pick? He’s a big, thick, athletic guy that some say may be the surest pick in the draft. Not a glamor pick, but he helps protect Stafford and he’d be excellent pulling and sealing blocks on LBs for Reggie and Mikel.

  9. By kyle on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    yes, ok, the lions went 4-12. Bt honestly lets look at the facts. the year before in our playoff run, teams looked at us, and said, oh, same old lions, thats gonna be an easy win. There werent many teams that planned for us and we took alot of them by surprise, and despite a few players we managed to stay pretty healthy. The only planning most teams did was on Suh, double team suh and get the ball out quick. So last year teams actually planned for us and to be honest our Offensive Cord. is pretty easy to read. Teams for the most part took away our deep ball and it seemed like Stafford who could easily throw 60, 70 yard td passes couldnt get the ball out in short 10 yard plays. He needs work. Adding to last year we had a very injured roster and alot of distractions. Sometimes you can ride a horse for miles and eventually you slip and fall off. The lions are going to come back full strength, distractions aside, and hopefully better prepared for the double teams on Calvin. With bush now, i hope they double team Calvin cuz everytime they do i see reggie breakin out untill they stop and we can go back to one on one where Calvin always wins. Its gonna be a new team this year and if you dont like the lions then why are you on this site. Were here to win and compete and thats what your gonna see. Mark my words, 12-4 and we win our division. Possible nfc championship game depending on how we draft. please gys dont take a linemen. If you can take Dee, get him, our secondary will be one of the best.

  10. By nighttrain1 on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    Last year the Lions were dead last in run blocking, dead last in chunk yardage of at least 20 yards or more, they faced the fewest men in the box all year because every team knew the Lions couldn’t run the ball so almost every team used a 4 man front, and those 4 men completely shut down the Lions run game.

    Do anybody really think the Lions new and has to be, improved offensive line can possibly block worst than last year’s line???
    The Lions run game has hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

  11. By Sanders on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    Put Reiff at RT and draft Eric Fisher for LT. Get one more WR like Justin Hunter or GVSU WR Charles Johnson. Boom! Our offense is sweet.

  12. By connor on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    2 players returning to the Starting OLINE that leaves 1st 2nd or 3rd players aka 2nd 3rd 4th even 5th to play=garbage

    OLINE is goign to be worse before it was better….stafford like i said better get used to be hit on his blind side

  13. By Bh on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    Did any of you watch the games last year? If not just go watch the film from when he was at Iowa. Riley is the best offensive linemen that the lions have. He’s a great run blocker , that’s why they had a jumbo package and almost always ran to his side. Watch the film he blows people up. He was a great pick last year. Are there holes along the o line, yes there’s no doubt about it. Will he end up being the LT maybe not but he’s going to be a good offensive linemen

  14. By Rated PG on Mar 14, 2013 | Reply

    I think with Reiff, they have to make a decision where he will have the most success. I have heard rumors that they think Reiff is a better right guard than a left tackle. If that is the case, then they need to make that decision and stick with it. Now that Backus has retired, I think that if Fisher or Joeckel are there, then you draft them. If Travis Frederick is around in the 3rd round, I would grab him as well. That would provide the Lions some versatility on their offensive line in case of injury (if Fisher or Joeckel goes down, you can shift Reiff to LT, Frederick could shift to guard, Austin or Nagy could move to center, etc., etc.). Youth would be served and no more revolving doors on the offensive line. Just a thought.

  15. By cullimon on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    I think the lions will go for a veteran LT/RT to help teach the younger guys and be a leader. Superbowl champ’s are leaving their LT to find a new team, the lions should pick him up with the cap space Backus’ retirement creates

  16. By mitch on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Stafford is used to being hit on his blind side….he has two surgeries to show for it. Reiff will be just fine as a starter. Besides, how old does our offensive line have to be before it changes, 50? 12 years of no running game equal 12 years of Backus and Raiola….it’s not brain surgery friends!

  17. By John on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    The players the lions got in free agency allow them to go after an offensive player if a great one is available ( fisher or Joeckel) that would complete the offense,,,now to finish off the defense with another corner. The lions are on the right path, a super bowl is in the near future.

  18. By Ryan on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Does Backus retiring gibe us more cap space? Also, my ideal draft you would look like this:
    1st round: Fisher / Joeckel
    2nd round: Best available (DL, DB, LB)
    3rd round: Barret Jones
    5th round: WR
    6th round: DL
    7th round: DL

    With Reggie Bush the lions have gone all in on offensive skill players now they need to build a line that can get it done. Fisher, Reiff and Jones would be a great start and Sims along with Hilliard and Fox would give the depth we need. Indy, New England, New Orleans all these great offenses had strong lines to dictate the game so their defenses didn’t need to be great.

  19. By Dave on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    We moved up several years ago to draft B. Pettigrew and left Michael Orr to go to the Ravens. We have not drafted a G or C in how many years? I am very very happy to have R. Reiff, however I fear that Matt Stafford is going to be hurried (causing turnovers) and hit (injuries) often.

  20. By Jerry on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    TALK HIM OUT OF IT!!!!!!!! We need Backus to give the Lions one more year so they can transition players in rather than be forced to totally redo the OLine in one shot. Better hope Joeckle or Fisher are there at #5!

  21. By Black Wolf Standing on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Riley Reiff was a rookie last year. His run blocking was exceptional. His pass blocking could use some help. But that said, HE WAS A ROOKIE! He (like any rookie) was going to make mistakes. Are we going to drop him for that? Be very careful before blaming a highly talented guy for his mistakes. If he walks away, what are you going to do when we have a less talented replacement?

  22. By Black Wolf Standing on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    LT – Riley Reiff
    LG – Rodney Austin
    C – Dominic Raiola
    RG – Rob Simms
    RT – Jason Fox

    If we can draft Warmack, we could have the strongest left side in the league. But as it stands right now, we have an offensive line equal or slightly better than last year.

  23. By Black Wolf Standing on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Alternative to the OL I posted:

    LT – Riley Reiff
    LG – Rob Simms
    C – Dominic Raiola
    RG – Jason Fox
    RT – Corey Hilliard

    I forgot Hilliard was resigned with promise for starting RT job.

  24. By Viking on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Any chance Jake Long might visit Detroit? He left St Louis without a contract. His price would seem to be coming down.

  25. By Eric on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Gotta love the positive outlook from these “Lions fans”…lol. Our OLine will be just fine without Backus. We were one of the better pass blocking lines in the league last year. We just need help run blocking, in which I have faith that the Lions management will do. Just look towards the light Lions fans, we are getting closer whether you see it or not. Last year was an injury riddled fluke of a season. Just wait! It’s on this time!

  26. By Heath on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    I see Lt Tackle Jake Long is still available! He could fill Backus shoes even for 1-2 years.!

  27. By stephanie on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    I cant wait for some football the lions are going to be recken with this year The players are ready to play like champions because they have the heart now that they have taken away some of the negetive attitudes on the team. W e the fans believe in you guys good luck Lions 34 ravens 7 superbowl champians for 2014

  28. By Josh on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    We drafted Reiff for this person, the line is fine. Fox was developed into a player that the Lions staff are confident is ready. We need to let the young guys play, we need to see how fox is before we waste a pick on O Line. If Fox doesn’t work then next year draft a lineman. The depth is even better next year, and it would save us from having the fox draft being a bust. This is why the lions have struggled: they never played the guys they developed, they just drafted new ones on top of them. Green bay has done this well for years and it puts them on the top of the division. They developed Rodgers, the o line, and the dline. We need to let the young guys play and see what they can do before we go wasting draft picks. BTW Joeckel and Fisher will go 1-2. Milliner would make the secondary a strength for years.

  29. By Dan on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Jake Long is still on the table…..just saying.

  30. By Cody on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Jerry, bringing Backus back for another year would be the worst thing we could possibly do. Backus has struggled severely in pass blocking throughout his career. He’s always been the best we’ve had there which is why he’s played. Stafford has been dotted from the blindside constantly because of Backus. Watch his game tape and focus on him, he gets beat consistently outside. Riley Reiff was a rookie last year and arguably the best run blocker out our team. If need be we can play him at LT like he has his whole life and was a 1st rd. draft pick at LT. However the suggestion of him at RT has been made due to Reiff’s aggressive powerful run blocking. 2 years ago when the lions were 6-10 they won the last 4 games with Corey Hilliard at RT. he can play too. We also have Jason Fox in the mix too. The lions will address the line in the draft and we will have a better line than last year guaranteed. We may not have all of our pieces yet but if you take out Backus, Cherilus, and Peterman, off the line we instantly will have a better line. Expecially with Reiff having a starting role on it.

  31. By Scott on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Long wants 10 million a year, too much and out of our range. Very good player though.

  32. By Will on Mar 15, 2013 | Reply

    Jake Long would be sweet. Don’t think we can afford him though.

  33. By Muzill on Mar 16, 2013 | Reply

    So, what about a proper lead blocker for Reggie Bush so that our run game can improve immediately. since teams are used to the Lions not having a run game for so long it would be very interesting to see how they defend us. I think we still need a true TE for Matthew to throw to and also a true center.

  34. By Brettdetfan26 on Mar 16, 2013 | Reply

    Wow you ppl are crazy how you gaboon say he’s not the answer at Lt or Rt? You guys are crazy for thinking that, we couldn’t run the ball cause we didnt have a solid rb but now with bush on board I hope we see the same looks as last year bush is gonna have a break out year 1000 yards? Possible but we haven’t had one of those sense Kevin jones! WHO?……. REIF is a great bigman you guys are like that gm lol drafting wr after wr figure you batter start looking for a new job

  35. By Black Wolf Standing on Mar 21, 2013 | Reply

    LT – Riley Reiff.
    LG – Rob Simms.
    C – Dominic Riola.
    RG – Rodney Austin.
    RT – Corey Hilliard.

    Riley Reiff, He was drafted to be Jeff Backus’s replacement. Jeff retired. No brainer. Rob Simms, Experience wins out to help the running game. Dominic Riola, Nothing changed to change this. Experience wins. Rodney Austin, The youth movement is complete. Corey Hilliard, He was promised this spot to resign. Maybe would except a Guard spot, but a little light for guard.

    We have G Dylan Gandy and Bill Nagy that could fill in for Rodney Austin if he’s not ready to be a starter or any injuries.

    Jason Fox is a RFA. Did the Lions gave him a RFA tender. And did he except it? Until he accepts it, he won’t be back. So don’t plug him in anywhere.

    If Jason Fox accepts, he can be back-up for either tackle. That would mean we have only one back-up position unfilled for the offensive line. I don’t expect the Lions to use the number 5 pick on the offensive line because we have greater needs on the defensive side of the ball.

  36. By bmkmd on Mar 26, 2013 | Reply

    The Lions need offensive linemen who can block on running plays. Watching the good teams run, you see the runner getting hit first a few yards beyond the scrimmage line. The offensive linemen actually block defenders. Go back and look how many open holes the Detroit Lions gave their runners. Not many. Get another offensive tackle in draft, 1st round.

    And while we are at it, how many sacks and/or pressure were our 4-3 linemen putting up. Not many there either. The Lions don’t blitz with linebackers or safeties. They need defensive ends to use Fairly’s and Suh’s double teams. Get another defensive end, 1st or second round. .

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