Detroit Lions rookie Ameer Abdullah has already made a tremendous impression on his coaches and teammates, particularly the defenders trying—and failing—to bring him down on the practice field.
The running back out of Nebraska was known in his college days for breaking off huge gains on the ground. Based on what we’re hearing out of Lions training camp, he’s primed to do the same thing as a professional.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press passed along this interesting exchange after Saturday’s practice. Team running backs coach Curtis Modkins was explaining how Abdullah still has a lot to learn, attempting to temper expectations for the rookie, when defensive coordinator Teryl Austin destroyed that narrative:
“We can’t even tackle that guy,” Austin said without breaking stride. “We can’t even touch him. He’s like grasping at air.”
When a reporter asked Austin if he was referring to Abdullah, Birkett writes “Austin lifted his right hand high in the air, gave a thumbs-up and kept on toward the locker room.”
Abdullah was a lightning rod for Nebraska’s offense for three full years. He struggled as a freshman but really took off in his sophomore year and never looked back—the same way he never looks back when he gets a step on defenders.
During his tenure with the Cornhuskers, the electric back averaged 5.6 yards per carry, gaining 4,588 yards on the ground and 39 touchdowns, 19 of which he racked up last year. Even scarier as it applies to his next adventure with the Lions, Abdullah is an accomplished receiver who tallied 73 receptions for 690 yards and seven touchdowns through the air.
Blessed with extraordinary agility and quickness, he’s a rare talent and appears to have what it takes to fit in perfectly with Detroit’s offensive strategy. While the Lions are known as a pass-happy team, the coaching staff—both current and former— has long been trying to establish a running game to complement Matthew Stafford’s rare abilities as a passer.
Even better, the Lions have been impressed by Abdullah as a pass-protector—something most rookies struggle to perfect.
If Abdullah can continue blowing by folks at the next level, as he has been doing in practice thus far, then the Lions will be incredibly dangerous on offense this year, and beyond.
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