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Detroit Lions hope Ameer Abdullah will boost ground game

By
The Sports Xchange
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford hands the football off to Ameer Abdullah. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford hands the football off to Ameer Abdullah. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

The Detroit Lions' struggling ground game is about to get a boost, just in time for their third preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Ameer Abdullah shed the red no-contact jersey he'd worn all of training camp when the Lions returned to practice for a walk-through two days after their exhibition loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

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While Lions coach Jim Caldwell joked that the jersey was "in the wash," Abdullah said his surgically repaired shoulder "feels good" and he hopes to make his preseason debut this week.

"If I'm allowed to play (I just want) to play a clean game," Abdullah said. "I missed a lot of valuable snaps, so to get in there and to just be with the guys who've been playing for a couple weeks now is what I'm asked to do and that's what I need to do."

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Abdullah led the Lions with 597 yards rushing as a rookie last year, but he tore the labrum in his left shoulder late in the season and underwent surgery in January.

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The Lions have proceeded carefully with Abdullah's return, largely for health reasons but also because he's their clear-cut No. 1 running back and they need him on the field for the regular season.

With backup Theo Riddick best utilized as a receiver out of the backfield, the short-yardage job remains up for grabs between Stevan Ridley and Zach Zenner, both of whom missed part of last season with injuries. The Lions' rebuilt offensive line is still a work in progress with rookie Taylor Decker slated to start at left tackle.

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Caldwell has said that he expects Abdullah to play a similar role this fall to what he did last year, when he led the Lions in all-purpose yardage and was the team's primary kick returner.

"Obviously, he's got some special traits that just don't happen every day," Caldwell said. "He can run, make you miss, catch the ball. He's a well-rounded individual. He certainly can help us in a number of ways."

Abdullah said he feels obligated to make sure the Lions have a more effective ground game this fall. Last year, they finished last in the NFL in rushing.

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"I understand that it's a process," Abdullah said. "You don't like to just throw people into situations where they can hurt themselves again. I appreciate how they handled me throughout this process. Now it's my turn to return the favor and do what I'm supposed to do."

PLAYER NOTES

--C Graham Glasgow's status for Week 3 of the preseason is uncertain because of an apparent ankle injury. Glasgow played just 11 snaps against the Bengals and showed up for practice Saturday with a boot on his left foot. ... QB Dan Orlovsky has had an interception returned for a touchdown in each of the Lions' first two preseason games, and there's no guarantee he makes the 53-man roster. The Lions, who drafted Jake Rudock in the sixth round, will decide in the next two weeks whether to keep two or three quarterbacks. General manager Bob Quinn comes from a New England Patriots organization that regularly kept one young backup to Tom Brady on the roster. Rudock has a better quarterback rating, completion percentage and yards per attempt than Orlovsky while playing with the third-string offense. ... QB Matthew Stafford seems at home in the Lions' new no-huddle offense, but he said last week that he wants to play at an even faster pace than the Lions have gone in their first two preseason games. "It's getting there," Stafford said. "I'd like to be going a little bit quicker if we can." ... CB Darrin Walls played as a gunner on the No. 1 punt team against the Bengals with S Don Carey out. Walls looks like the Lions' No. 5 cornerback, ahead of 2015 third-round pick Alex Carter. Carey started camp on the non-football injury list and is on the roster bubble with two weeks left in the preseason.

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