Theo Riddick didn't play on special teams at Notre Dame. He was too valuable to the franchise there. But the fact that he's playing — and excelling — on special teams with the Lions shouldn't be taken as a sign of depreciation.

"I'm just a small fish in a big pond right now" Riddick said. "I am just trying to do whatever I can to try and make this team better and be on the field on Sunday."

Riddick's true value to the Lions may not be realized for a couple of years. He's a rookie and the understudy to running back Reggie Bush. If things work out and he develops like the coaching staff hopes he may step into that multi-dimensional running back role when Bush's days are over.

In the meantime he's buttering his bread a whole new way — covering kicks and punts.

"He has been excellent on special teams — not just good he’s been excellent" coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's really made some plays for us really has blossomed in that role as well as carving out a role on offense.

Riddick wasn't expected to have this large a role on special teams. Veteran Montell Owens was signed to be one of the leaders and attackers on the cover teams. But when he injured his knee Riddick got the call.

"At the end of the day it's just football" Riddick said. "It's not really difficult. It's all about want-to. As long as you've got that I believe you can do whatever you want."

Schwartz said Riddick has more than "picked up the slack" in Owens' absence.

"That’s been going on all year with our team" he said. "When somebody goes down the next guy has stepped up and has been reliable. That’s a lot easier said than done. It’s easy to say next man up. Our guys have been able to contribute and have responded well in those situations. I think that’s a good sign for us."

Riddick said he hadn't tackled anybody in quite a while but he's taking a liking to it.