The Detroit Lions will start three new offensive linemen in the season opener against the Vikings on Sunday. One matchup, in particular, stands out.
Left tackle Riley Reiff faces Vikings All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen in his first start as Jeff Backus' successor.
Backus retired after 12 seasons. He played 191 games in his career and set a franchise record with187 consecutive starts. Reiff stepped into that role this season.
"I think Riley, you get a security blanket having a guy like Jeff Backus out (there)," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. "He’s always there week-in and week-out. But Riley has a lot of the same characteristics. He’s very tough. He’s quiet. He had to play once last year, the only start that Backus missed his entire NFL career Thanksgiving last year. Tough matchup against the Houston Texans, a 3-4 teams with some really good outside rushers. And Riley went in and did a really good job in that game on a very short week of practice. So that was a glimpse of what he can do. I think he’s had a very good training camp, a good preseason and we expect him to hold that position. It would be nice if he could do it as long as Jeff Backus did, with as much as consistency.”
Reiff will have his hands full Sunday with Allen, who has posted 13.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, one interception, four forced fumbles and three pass breakups in 11 career games against the Lions.