GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two months ago, Dwayne Washington was on the fringes of making the Detroit Lions roster. He was a rookie seventh-round pick with ball security issues who would likely have to force his way onto the team through special teams.
Now, by the end of the first month of the season, he might end up being Detroit’s starting running back. Or at the very least, he’s putting himself in a position to have a true timeshare with veteran Theo Riddick.
“I still think you’re going to see a mix between he and Theo,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “Those are the guys that will carry the mail for us most of the time. You may see a little bit of Zach [Zenner] as well.”
Zenner didn’t have a single carry Sunday against Green Bay. Riddick gained 9 yards on 10 carries and was ineffective as a runner. Washington, meanwhile, had 38 yards on his 10 carries.
Yes, Riddick and the Lions faced one of the league’s most difficult run defenses. And the run blocking up front was poor, leading to few holes and fewer opportunities.
But Washington showed something Riddick didn’t. He was able to make something out of seemingly nothing. Against the Packers on Sunday, that was noticeable enough.
He’s always been an intriguing prospect because of his combination of size (6-foot-1, 223 pounds) and speed. His hands have been better over the past two months as well. And he caught the eye of at least one Packers defender, Mike Daniels.
“He’s got some strength to him,” Daniels said. “There’s a couple times where I was trying to chase him down and it looks like he’d be gloved up and right before he made contact with whoever was the safety or the linebacker, he accelerated to try and run through him.
“So that’s impressive.”
It’s an intriguing combination for the Lions as they move forward for the rest of the season without Ameer Abdullah, who was placed on injured reserve last week and is out for a minimum of two months -- if not the rest of the season.
Riddick has shown he can run this season, but he might be a back that Detroit has to use in certain situations instead of a plug-and-play against almost every team. The Lions seemed to have that in Abdullah, who has more strength to run up the middle than Riddick and also had the shiftiness to be elusive.
Washington has some of those characteristics, too, which should make him a candidate for a larger role as the season continues on. Don’t be surprised if that starts Sunday against the Bears.