He was drafted to fill Reggie Bush’s roster spot, but new Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah doesn’t want to hear any comparisons to Bush.
“Honestly, I think there’s only one Reggie Bush and hopefully I’m out to prove that there’s only one Ameer Abdullah,” Abdullah, the Lions’ second-round pick, said in a conference call with Detroit reporters Friday. “Reggie, honestly, in my years of living, watching college football and watching Reggie throughout his career, he’s one of the most electrifying guys I’ve ever seen. I’m ready to prove myself that I’m unique in my own way.”
A day after they used their first-round pick on Duke guard Laken Tomlinson, the Lions continued to plug holes in their running game by drafting Abdullah with the No. 54 pick overall.
The Nebraska running back finished with 1,611 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns last year, and the Lions expect him to contribute both in the backfield and the return game as a rookie.
“His versatility, his ability to help on special teams, his ability in space,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said, listing off the attributes that set Abdullah apart from other running backs in the class. “We’ve got Joique (Bell), we’ve got Theo (Riddick), we think he’s a good fit with those two guys working together, so just a real talented guy and a great citizen off the field, obviously.”
Bell, Riddick and Bush split time in the Lions’ backfield last year, with Bell leading the team with 860 yards rushing on 223 carries and Riddick serving primarily as a receiving weapon out of the backfield.
Bush, who missed five games with ankle injuries last year, was cut in February, and the Lions spent part of the off-season trying to find an upgrade for their 28th-ranked rushing attack.
“We’ll see (how much these moves help our running game),” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “You can talk about it all you want, the proof is in the pudding. Will we be working towards that? Absolutely. It’s a focal point for us – one of them, which there are many. But we do think, obviously, this strengthens our team.”
Abdullah racked up more than 7,000 all-purpose yards as a Cornhusker, returning a smattering of kickoffs over his four seasons and handling punt-return duties as a freshman and sophomore.
The Detroit Lions selected Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullahat No. 54in thesecond round of the 2015 NFL draft. Here is an introduction.
He played faster than his 4.6-second 40-yard dash time, and Mayhew said he wasn’t concerned about fumble problems that were an issue for some teams.
Abdullah lost 16 fumbles in 53 career games according to CBS Sports, but only lost two fumbles last year.
“You might want to check some of the other backs, how many fumbles they had last year,” Mayhew said. “He’s worked really hard on that, apparently, ’cause he’s improved in that area every single year so that’s something that we think he’ll continue to work on and he’ll just keep getting better at it.”
Abdullah was the second running back taken in Friday’s second round, and the fourth of the draft overall.
Todd Gurley (St. Louis Rams) and Melvin Gordon (San Diego Chargers) went in Thursday’s first round, the Jacksonville Jaguars took T.J. Yeldon with the fourth pick Friday, and Tevin Coleman and Duke Johnson were still on the board when Abdullah got a phone call from the Lions.
He said he had been in “pretty frequent” contact with Lions coaches and scouts since he sat down with running backs coach Curtis Modkins at the Senior Bowl in January and had “a good feeling” he was going to end up in Detroit.
Current Lions cornerback Mo Seisay is one of Abdullah’s best friends, and Abdullah said he has an aunt that lives downtown.
“Can’t even put (this) into words,” he said. “A lot of hard work has gone into this process and to finally have a team call me, the Detroit Lions, and take a chance on me it’s such a blessing. To have family around me, I couldn’t paint a better picture.”
RB Ameer Abdullah
Pick: No. 54 overall.
Size: 5-feet-8, 205 pounds.
Hometown: Homewood, Ala.
The skinny: He’s the home-run threat out of the backfield the Lions lack. He has good speed and quickness and can turn the corner well. He’s said to be one of the highest-character players in the draft. He was Nebraska’s MVP, All-Big Ten and a noted workout warrior. He ran for 1,611 yards last year and averaged 28 yards on kickoff returns.
Negatives: He lacks ideal size and has small hands. There are questions about his blocking ability. He has had fumble issues, with 13 in his career, although he had only three last season.
Contact Dave Birkett: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.