Starting with Ameer Abdullah, Lions backs are question marks in 2016

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions open training camp on July 28 in Allen Park, Michigan and like every team in the NFL, there are questions.

While we won’t know whether the Lions will be contenders until the end of September at the earliest, the roster as it is constructed now could give some clues. And that’s how we’ll view the Lions as we preview them by position for training camp, continuing today with running backs.

What the Lions have: Ameer Abdullah (starter), Michael Burton (fullback), Theo Riddick, Stevan Ridley, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington, George Winn.

What they might still need: The Lions are likely set here, although with injuries to Abdullah and Ridley it wouldn’t be surprising to see Detroit add another body for camp.

Likely roster spots: Five (including fullback).

What to expect in camp: Figure to see a lot of running backs getting reps for many reasons. The Lions don’t have a clear featured back and with Abdullah and Ridley having missed offseason workouts as they recovered from injury, the Lions need to get them reps. They also need to see what they have in the rookie Washington and what Zenner will be coming off injury. Basically, don’t read anything into any sort of depth chart at running back until a couple of weeks into camp.

Reason to believe: Riddick is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL and holds the franchise record for single season receptions and yards by a running back. He’s a safety valve for quarterback Matthew Stafford and should see even more work with Calvin Johnson retired. Abdullah has a lot of skill and seemed to be getting better as last season went on. Zenner has the capability of being a good short-yardage power back and Ridley was once a 1,000-yard rusher.

Be concerned because: Ridley didn’t practice all spring and no one knows what he has left. Abdullah had some fumbling issues last season and it’s not clear how he’ll return from shoulder surgery. Zenner’s sample size is small. Washington, in unpadded practices, had trouble holding onto the ball. The offensive line is still a question and this is essentially a similar group to the unit that finished last in the NFL in rushing yards per game last season (83.44).