Early Sunday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport dropped a few serious bombs regarding the Detroit Lions. First, there was the report that Jim Caldwell may not really have a multi-year extension, as previously leaked. Then his attention turned to the Lions lineup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ameer Abdullah missed last week due to a neck injury. He was limited in practice all this week due to the same injury and was listed as questionable for Sunday. The Lions made it official and declared him inactive for Sunday’s game, but the reasoning may surprise you:
#Lions RB Ameer Abdullah (neck, questionable) is not expected to play today, source said, though it's more for play than injury reasons. Detroit is trying other players to improve the run game.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 10, 2017
Apparently, Abdullah’s play wasn’t up to the Lions’ standards and they will roll with Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and Tion Green as their backs against the Bucs. The Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett is also reporting that Abdullah was available to play and that the “neck injury is not keeping him out.”
Abdullah leads the team with 505 rushing yards, but is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry, the lowest of his short career. His benching puts his future with the team into serious doubt. Abdullah has just one more year left on his rookie contract. The Lions could easily get out of the contract and even save just over $1 million in cap space should they decide to move on after the season, per OverTheCap.com.
Last week, Green and Riddick took on the majority of carries. While Riddick struggled much like Abdullah, Green certainly made a good impression in his NFL debut. He carried the ball 11 times for 51 yards and his first NFL score.
We’ll see if the Lions stick with this decision for the rest of the year or if Abdullah will get a shot to redeem himself in the final few games of the 2017 season.