SIOUX FALLS -- After getting a taste of the NFL playoffs this past season, Riley Reiff said he and the Detroit Lions are hungry for more.
Reiff, a 6-foot-6, 313-pound left tackle for the Lions, started 15 games for the Lions this year, including Detroit's heartbreaking 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC playoffs on Jan. 4.
"The playoffs was a lot of fun," Reiff told The Daily Republic while taking a break from signing autographs with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire on Saturday in Sioux Falls. "It was a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement and it was a tough loss, but we'll use it as a building block and come back tougher this year."
The Parkston native helped the Lions gain 5.9 yards per offensive play in the NFC Wild Card game at Dallas. For the past two seasons, Reiff has started all 32 games that he has played in, mostly protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford's blind side at left tackle.
While Reiff has held the left tackle position for the past two seasons, the Lions have said this offseason they might be interested in moving the former Iowa Hawkeye around on the offensive line.
"People get overhyped about it, but I don't care," said Reiff about possibly changing positions on the line. "I like playing, and wherever they want to put me, that's fine. I'll play."
Reiff is entering the final year of his rookie contract and the Lions haven't committed or denied to picking up his fifth-year option. Under the collective bargaining agreement, all rookie draft picks get four-year contracts, and teams hold a fifth-year option on first-round picks. For players picked outside the top 10, like Reiff, the fifth-year salary is equal to the average of the 25 highest-paid players of a position, excluding the top three.
But Reiff wasn't worried about his contract or next move. Instead Reiff is focused on improving and helping the Lions win.
"For the Lions to have success, I can start with myself. Every guy has to play better and improve even just a little bit," Reiff said. "If we keep getting better every day it's going to be hard to beat us."
The Lions finished second in the NFC North last year with a record of 11-5, but have already lost big names early in the NFL off-season.
Detroit lost standout defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins on March 12 and released former Heisman Trophy winner and running back Reggie Bush earlier this month.
"You hear about those transactions, but it's the next-guy-up mentality," said Reiff adding the Lion's already signed Haloti Ngata to replace Suh on the defensive line. "They bring guys in and it's just part of the business. It's rough because a lot of good people get cut, but that's just part of the business."
Throughout his three seasons in the NFL, Reiff said he has learned plenty on, and off, the field.
"You learn a lot of life lessons not only on the field, but off the field," Reiff said. "You meet a lot of good people along the way and that's one of the benefits of playing in the NFL. You see a lot and you learn a lot. I'm just happy to be where I am at right now."
Reiff 'proud' of Trojan's state title
While Reiff was busy competing against the likes of the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, it didn't stop the former Parkston Trojan from noticing his high school football team winning its first state championship.
The Parkston Trojans defeated St. Thomas More 24-21 in November for the school's first-ever state football title.
"I didn't get to watch many games, but I am awfully proud of them," Reiff said. "They are well-coached and it's good for them to finally get one under the belt. They had a good group of kids that worked hard."
One of those kids on the Trojan's this year was Riley's little brother, Brady, who helped lead the Trojan's to back-to-back state title game appearances and was a two-time Class B all-state member. Brady is currently following his older brother's footsteps by attending and playing football for the University of Iowa.
"I told him to do whatever he wanted to do and he chose that route," Reiff said about his little brother attending Iowa. "He has a lot of hard work ahead of him, but hopefully it pans out for him."