General manager Bob Quinn said Abdullah will have to compete for his snaps ahead of the 2018 season, Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports.
Abdullah has failed to spark the Lions' dormant run game since the team made him a second-round pick in 2014. In an effort to turn the tide, Detroit bolstered the depth chart by signing LeGarrette Blount in free agency before adding Kerryon Johnson out of Auburn in the second round of this year's draft. With Johnson having the skills to be a featured back, Blount the most fit for goal-line work, and holdover Theo Riddick a standout receiver, Abdullah seems to be on the outside looking in. In fact, his mere spot on the roster could be in danger.
Abdullah has had a full offseason to train for the first time in his career, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. "Definitely ready for a big year," the running back recently said. "My body feels as good as it's felt since I've been here, so I think that's the most important thing. I've had an unfortunate streak of two injuries in a row. Coming back from those have been tough in their own respect, but I'm glad I'm all the way back."
Abdullah, who entered the league in 2015, needed surgery to repair a torn labrum after his rookie year and then missed a good chunk of the 2017 offseason recovering from a Lisfranc injury he suffered two games into the 2016 campaign. Abdullah's also the owner of a career 3.8 YPC mark and has currently fallen to No. 3 on the depth chart after starting 2017 in the lead role. It's difficult to gauge how much blame for his professional struggles is due to this lack of offseason availability, but it seems obvious that a rehabilitation-free offseason is more favorable than the alternative. The Lions front office hasn't given up on the running back, as general manager Bob Quinn recently indicated that Abdullah remains in the team's plans ahead going forward. However, Detroit's addition of LeGarrette Blount, coupled with the high likelihood that Quinn invests in this year's deep class of running backs, makes Abdullah's exact role uncertain.
Abdullah lost work to undrafted rookie Tion Green down the stretch last season, taking only 15 carries over the final three weeks after returning from a two-game absence due to a neck injury amidst rumors he was essentially a healthy scratch for the second game. The 2015 second-round pick has never lived up to expectations, and the Lions' recent signing of LeGarrette Blount hints at something quite different from what Quinn said Tuesday when asked about Abdullah. With Theo Riddick locked in on passing downs while Blount likely handles goal-line work and at least some of the early down carries, Abdullah likely will need to compete for a committee role that's not especially conducive to fantasy production. He may even find his roster spot in jeopardy if the Lions use an early or middle-round draft pick on a running back.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn seemed to acknowledge that Abdullah isn't a special talent, but Quinn nonetheless is hopeful the 2015 second-round pick can be a productive part of the team's 2018 backfield. Abdullah managed just 552 yards on 165 carries (3.3 average) and 162 yards on 25 catches (6.5 average) last season, but he at least managed to play 14 games after logging just two appearances the previous year. With Theo Riddick locked in on passing downs, Abdullah could find his roster spot in jeopardy if the Lions bring in an early draft pick or pricey free agent to compete for early-down work. The team did retain offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who has done excellent work with Matthew Stafford despite failing to establish a respectable running game.
Abdullah carried eight times for 18 yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 35-11 victory over Green Bay. He also brought in one of two targets for 11 yards.
Abdullah -- again rotating in behind Theo Riddick (ribs) and rookie Tion Green -- did little to nothing before scampering for a seven-yard touchdown in garbage time, averaging just 1.6 yards on his seven other totes. He didn't get many opportunities, though, as the Nebraska product has barely played these last three games with Detroit management opting to give Green an extended look. Neither tailback has lit the world on fire, but Abdullah produced just 3.36 yards per carry in the 11 games he started this season, while Green averaged 3.92 yards behind the same offensive line in the five games he was active. Though not a drastic difference in efficiency, Green also fared better in the eye test as he looked to be the superior two-down, between-the-tackles runner. Abdullah, who remains under contract through 2018, should be back in Detroit for another season, but his days as the top dog appear to be over.
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|