Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos trying to ease Phillip Lindsay’s workload

By signing Theo Riddick, the Denver Broncos are showing their concern about Phillip Lindsay as a workhorse back.

Undrafted out of the University of Colorado, Phillip Lindsay was a revelation for the Denver Broncos last year. But on his way to topping 1,000 rushing yards (1,037) and scoring nine times on the ground, he had more than 15 carries in just three of his 15 games.

Lindsay missed Week 17 last season with a wrist injury, but by all accounts he’s fully recovered from surgery. Royce Freeman has gotten some early buzz out of Broncos training camp though, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo! has reported they feel so good about him that they’re hoping for a “true split” of touches at running back.

The Broncos are playing in the Hall of Fame game Thursday night, but that backfield split is now in line to get further divided. According to Mike Klis of 9 News in Denver, barring the unexpected, the Broncos will sign Theo Riddick later this week.

Riddick was released by the Detroit Lions, where he had spent his entire career, last weekend. He defines the term pass-catching back, with over 300 receiving yards in five straight seasons with at least 53 receptions and at least 67 targets in each of the last four. His carry totals in those last five seasons go 20, 43, 92, 84 and 40.

Freeman, at 6-foot tall and 238 pounds, is a powerful back to pair with the 5-foot-8, 190 pound Lindsay. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello compared the duo to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Riddick’s signing most clearly puts Devontae Booker on the roster bubble in Denver. But his role is very specialized and specific, if uninspiring as he’s averaged 7.0 yards per catch or less in two of the last three seasons. And with Freeman not a real passing game threat (14 catches for 72 yards in 2018), Lindsay’s 35 catches and 47 targets (6.9 yards per reception) from last year are in line for a drop-off this year.

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All signs point to Lindsay and Freeman each being able to produce capably in a proverbial timeshare. But the addition of Riddick shows a clear lack of faith from the Broncos that Lindsay can be anything close to a workhorse, and fantasy football owners should take note of a looming three-man committee backfield as Lindsay gets passing game work siphoned from him.

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