ALLEN PARK, Mich. If youre not running the ball effectively enough with five offensive linemen, why not try six?
The Detroit Lions have been doing that more and more in recent weeks, and it paid off in Sundays 31-14 victory at Jacksonville with a season-high 149 yards rushing.
Coach Jim Schwartz said rookie offensive tackle Riley Reiff, the clubs 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.
Hes given our run game an incredible boost, Schwartz said Monday during his weekly news conference. The offensive line has blocked very well. I think weve seen probably the most consistent and most productive run game since Ive been here. A lot of it has to do with attitude upfront. Rileys a big part of that.
Reiff has actually started three of the last five games. Hes officially listed as a tight end on the stat sheet in those situations, but the Lions have yet to throw a pass to him.
Hes been in there strictly to block. His role keeps expanding because hes proven he can get the job done.
Reiff played in 33 of the Lions 72 offensive plays against the Jaguars. Its no coincidence that he was blocking on all four of Detroits rushing touchdowns.
Hes contributed in a lot of different ways, mainly because hes 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. Thats hard to do without an edge blocker.
Rileys made a big difference for us there, in addition to his pass blocking. Were not just one-dimensional when he goes on the field. Its 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 wasnt necessarily a reflection of how he played, according to Schwartz.
I thought those guys all played well, Schwartz said of the defensive line. We werent 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. Its just how many plays can you make down the field? Its hard to get productive yards.
Were not judged by the stat sheet. Were 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 thats 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 doesnt do a whole lot of good if you dont step up and make a tackle.
He has improved from week to week. Hes 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. Hes no worse for the wear.
... Schwartz said safety Amari Spievey still hasnt been cleared to return after suffering a concussion in the Oct. 22 game at Chicago.