Detroit Lions: Can Ameer Abdullah finish what Jahvid Best started?


It seems like every high profile player comes out of training camp with glowing reviews.

Whether it’s a quarterback entering his second or third season who looks “sharp” or a newly drafted wide receiver that looks “blazing fast,” it can sometimes be hard to differentiate between fact and fiction.

This year for the Detroit Lions that player is second round draft pick Ameer Abdullah who has been deemed “untouchable” by defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

The Lions haven’t had a runner who could complement the passing game since the arrival of Matthew Stafford, but it’s not for a lack of trying.

They spent a first round pick on Jahvid Best in 2010, a second round pick on Mikel Leshoure in 2011, and even took to a a chance on a high-profile free agent Reggie Bush in 2013–all of whom didn’t work out because of injuries.

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After spending another second round pick on a running back in the 2015 NFL draft, you have to wonder if Abdullah will finally be the guy that works out long-term for Detroit.

Of all the aforementioned backs, Abdullah probably resembles Best the closet because of his quickness and pass catching ability. He might not be as fast as a Best was, but he’s a better runner in between the tackles and looks to have even better field vision.

What’s encouraging about the comparison is that Best gave the Lions’ offense something that no other back has been able to emulate since his retirement — a consistent home run threat out of the backfield.

Bush came close, but he wasn’t the pass catcher Best was nor the route runner, though his numbers were impressive in that area in his first season with Detroit.

Abdullah will also have the benefit of running behind what should be a better offensive line than any of the previous backs. The interior of the offensive line has been infused with youth and talent with two maulers in Larry Warford and Laken Tomlinson at the guard spots and Travis Swanson at center.

This should help Abdullah become a more effective runner and his vision and quickness should help him avoid contact that he isn’t instigating.

His only flaw coming out of Nebraska was his pass protecting, which he feels more comfortable with now.

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  • Abdullah, via the Detroit Free Press:

    "“I feel like I’m pretty good (in pass protection),” Abdullah said. “Really good, actually. Pass protections, the way they break things down (here), you got this if this happens, and it’s clear cut. And if this happens, you’ve got that. It’s clear cut. And it helps you make quicker decisions and be in position to strike your defender as effectively as possible.”"

    If Abdullah can pass protect, he can be a three down back for the Lions. They probably won’t ask that of him early in games, or potentially at all this season, but he has the long-term potential.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Abdullah gave the Lions 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving which would rival what Best was able to accomplish for the Lions in his rookie season. In fact, that projection might be selling Abdullah short with Bell’s injury likely going to limit his workload early on.

    If that happens, Abdullah may seal the deal as the Lions every down back with big play capability– something the Lions have longed for since Jahvid Best.

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