Perhaps because he’s aware of the future, Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah is voicing discontent on how he’s been utilized in the past.
A combination of injuries and lack of productivity since Abdullah was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Lions has left him discouraged and the team seeking other options to bolster its ground game.
Abdullah rushed for 552 yards while starting 11 of 14 games last season, but he only had two games with at least 20 carries while he was limited to 11 or fewer attempts eight times.
“It’s frustrating, especially coming from Nebraska where I was the guy, I knew I was going to get the ball at least 20 times a game,” Abdullah said on NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport’s podcast, per MLive.com. “For me, it’s not necessarily getting a certain number of touches. It’s getting meaningful touches and getting into a rhythm. That’s where it gets kind of frustrating.”
Abdullah rushed for a career-best 597 yards as a rookie but played in just two games in 2016 before sustaining a foot injury that landed him on season-ending injured reserve.
Detroit was last in the league in rushing last season with an average of 76.3 yards per game, so the team addressed the ground game in the offeseason by signing free agent LeGarrette Blount and taking Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson in the second round of the NFL Draft.
With Theo Riddick entrenched as the third-down back, it’s hard to envision an expansion of Abdullah’s role in 2018.
“The coaches, I trust their game plan; they’re much smarter than me,” said Abdullah. “But it’s hard when I come in, I get a carry and break it for about 10 yards, then I come out for about three plays, then I gotta come in to pass protect, then I don’t get my next carry until, like, the next quarter.”
A new coaching staff, headed by head coach Matt Patricia, could mean a shift from Detroit’s pass-first offensive scheme from the past few seasons.
Of course, the competition for touches has increased for Abdullah. Blount led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 while Johnson rushed for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns last season for Auburn.
“Going into the last year of my contract,” Abdullah said, “I feel like I’m ready for anything.”