Ameer Abdullah was supposed to be the next big thing in the NFL when he was drafted by Detroit ahead of the 2015 campaign and likened to legendary Lions running back Barry Sanders.
You could see why the comparisons came about. Abdullah joined Sanders’ former team and had a strong history of performance in college football.
Abdullah, like Sanders, is small in stature and has incredible footwork when he’s at his best. But the Lions’ running back has not lived up to his pre-NFL hype and it’s safe to say he is frustrated.
Heading into his fourth NFL season in Detroit, Abdullah has 1,250 rushing yards in three seasons, something the 24-year-old easily surpassed in his 2013 campaign with Nebraska when he landed himself fourth on the college’s rushing list by amassing 1,690 rushing yards during the campaign.
But that sort of success hasn’t come in the NFL. Abdullah’s most carries in a season with Detroit has been 165, while last year he only averaged 3.3 yards per carry following on from a 2015 campaign which was virtually all lost to injury.
Whilst Abdullah has failed to perform to the best of his ability, he is eager for more of the ball and feels like he has been underutilized.
“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 told Michael Rapaport on the I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast. “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.”
One of the difficulties for Abdullah is the pass-heavy offense Detroit run with Matthew Stafford under center. This has left the 24-year-old unsure as to what his exact role was going to be each week last year as the Lions finished 9-7 and four games behind NFL North division winners Minnesota Vikings.
“You have no clue,” Abdullah added. “We’re in a pass-heavy offense as it is, very pass-heavy offense, so it’s tough to make the most of some of your touches, especially when you don’t know when they’re going to come. But for me, what I’ve learned the most in Detroit and what I appreciate about Detroit is the fact that mentally I’m a lot tougher than I ever would have been if I would have went somewhere else.”