ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Ameer Abdullah spent the first month of training camp unable to be hit. Now, he wouldn’t mind getting some contact.
The Detroit Lions running back said he would like to play in Saturday’s third preseason game against Baltimore in what would constitute his first live action against another team this season.
“I mean, I just want to play,” said Abdullah, who had postseason shoulder surgery. “Just want to play at a full-speed game tempo. That’s all it really is. I’ve been practicing. To play in a game setting, to get back used to playing in a game since I haven’t played in a preseason game yet, that’d be cool.”
Abdullah missed the first two preseason games as he was still practicing with his now-gone red, no-contact practice jersey. He said he wasn’t given any indication yet whether he’ll be used at all Saturday against the Ravens or if he’ll end up sitting out the entire preseason.
Some running backs believe they need to get some contact in the preseason, especially coming off injury, to make sure everything is good. Abdullah said he doesn’t need to be hit because, “mentally, I don’t need that to feel like I’m ready. Just need to play.”
Either way, he’ll play on Sept. 11 when the Lions travel to Indianapolis for the season opener. Abdullah led the Lions in rushing last season with 597 yards, but Detroit struggled to run the ball overall. And without him in the lineup, it has been obvious Detroit has missed something from its rushing attack.
So this year, to Abdullah, is about “just making the most out of opportunity.” Not to say that he feels like he missed chances last season. He told ESPN he believes he made “a lot of good things happen” during his rookie season.
“He’s an explosive guy,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “For a guy that’s not a huge guy, he’s a really good runner, actually, between the tackles. He does a great job in there. Great in the pass game as well.
“He’s an all-around guy that can really help us.”
And while Abdullah is unsure exactly how much he’ll carry the ball this season, the Lions appear to be expecting him to be their top running back. The bigger question is whether he’ll also be on special teams, like he was as a rookie.
Abdullah, who led the NFL in kick return yards last season with 1,077, said he would be open to continuing the role in 2016 -- even if he is Detroit’s primary running back. He’s been working in a rotation during practice with numerous other players, but since he has yet to be active for a preseason game, it isn’t clear where he stands retaining his role there.
But he’d like to.
“Of course, man,” Abdullah said. “I always want to be on the field. Doesn’t matter to me what it is. They tell me to run down a punt, I’ll go.”
Don’t expect Detroit to have Abdullah doing that this fall -- but he might end up working out a little bit everywhere else.