Abdullah takes 'cerebral' approach during offseason surgery recovery

Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah hasn't practiced all offseason, but he still feels like he's learning anyway as he recovers from surgery to repair a labrum in his shoulder.

"I got to look at things more this offseason from a coaching perspective," Abdullah said. "So I understand why we do things more and how, where people are going to be. It's been a very mentally challenging period for me."

He has to challenge himself with his mind because his body is still recovering. Abdullah hasn't spoken to the media since his surgery in January. He wouldn't say when he hurt the shoulder or how long during the season he was playing with that level of pain.

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said earlier in June he expects Abdullah back for the beginning of training camp in late July.

When Abdullah does return, he said he expects to be "more cerebral" in his second season. He will understand the scheme and the offense better after rushing for a team-high 597 yards last season.

With Joique Bell no longer with the Lions, Abdullah is expected to be the team's No. 1 running back when he returns. He knows he needs to be better -- and more consistent -- in order to get the ball more.

"Just produce, play well, not turn the ball over," Abdullah said. "Be solid in pass protection.

"Just be productive, man. Be productive for my team."

With Abdullah and Stevan Ridley out of practices, the Lions have leaned heavily on Zach Zenner, George Winn and Dwayne Washington as running backs, along with Theo Riddick, the team's primary pass-catching back.