The Denver Broncos are back to square one in finding added depth at running back. Theo Riddick, who the Broncos signed last week as a potential No. 2 option behind Phillip Lindsay, is out six-to-eight weeks after suffering a slight fracture in his shoulder (per Mike Klis of 9News).
Riddick will not need surgery, but the six-to-eight week recovery timetable would have him missing the start of the regular season. Riddick would be expected to return by Week 3 of the regular season at the earliest with a possible return by early October.
Riddick played just six snaps in his Broncos’ debut, having one carry for -2 yards. The Broncos signed Riddick days after the Detroit Lions surprisingly released him at the opening of camp. Riddick has 1,023 rushing yards and 2,238 receiving yards in six NFL seasons, compiling 19 touchdowns.
The Broncos brought in Riddick to be a pass-catching back out of the backfield, giving new quarterback Joe Flacco a checkdown option in the offense. After having 80 catches for 697 yards in 2015, Riddick’s production has declined over the past three years, not having over 450 yards in a season since, despite having 167 catches in that span.
Riddick’s injury opens up the door for Devontae Booker to make the roster again. After having 877 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in his rookie season (2016), Booker has compiled just 1,032 yards and two touchdowns in the two seasons since. Booker led the Broncos running backs in receiving with 38 catches for 275 yards and no touchdowns in 2018.
The Broncos will have Phillip Lindsay (1,037 yards, nine touchdowns, 5.4 yards per carry in 2018) as the featured back once again. Royce Freeman, a third-round pick in the 2018 draft, also is in the mix for playing time. He had 521 yards and five touchdowns (4.0 yards per carry) last year, but just 72 yards receiving.
Denver will likely turn to Booker to be the team’s top pass-catching option in the backfield while Riddick’s out, but Lindsay had 241 yards receiving and a touchdown on 35 receptions last year. The Broncos could give Lindsay more targets in the passing game as the preseason develops.