Ameer Abdullah’s career in Detroit never took off like it was supposed to. His rookie year showed promise, but after an injury derailed his second season in the NFL, Abdullah faced high expectations in 2017. It didn’t end up working out... at all. The Lions’ former second-round pick rushed for just 552 yards in 14 games appearances and 11 starts, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
This week, Abdullah joined comedian Michael Rapaport’s podcast “I Am Rapaport” and spoke a lot about last season. It’s clear he was frustrated with how things played out and how the Lions coaches ended up using him.
“It’s frustrating, especially coming from Nebraska where I was the guy,” Abdullah said. “I knew I was going to get the ball at least 20 times a game, and for me, it’s not necessarily getting a certain amount of touches, it’s getting meaningful touches and getting into a rhythm.”
In his senior year at college, Abdullah averaged 20.3 carries per game and a whopping 6.1 yards per carry. In his three years in Detroit, he has only averaged 10.2 carries a game. That number was slightly up last year (11.8), but by the end of the season, Detroit had clearly lost faith in Abdullah and he only had 21 carries in the final four games he played.
However, Abdullah was quick not to blame the coaching staff for their decisions. “The coaches, I trust their gameplan,” Abdullah said. “They go in and they’re much smarter than me. They go in and they dissect how they want to attack the team we’re playing, and how they want to break down the touches.
“But it’s hard when I come in and I get a carry and I break it for about 10 yards. Then I come out for about three plays. Then I got to come in to like pass protect. Then I don’t get my next carry until like the next quarter.”
That sort of inconsistency in his use, Abdullah said, made it hard on him to develop any sort of rhythm or comfort level. “It’s tough to make the most out of some of your touches, especially when you don’t know when they’re going to come,” Abdullah said.
Though Abdullah admits that the past three years in Detroit have been frustrating, he’s also grateful at how the adversity has helped build his own character.
“Mentally, I’m a lot tougher than I ever would have been if, I feel, I had I gone somewhere else,” Abdullah said. “Just because it’s a very unconventional and different situation for me. I don’t get the ball as much as I used to.”
That adjustment has been hard on Abdullah, especially given the high expectations for a second-round pick. “It’s tough, especially when you have a lot of pressure on you to be that 1,000-yard back,” Abdullah said. “And it’s like, ‘What did you expect? If I’m getting six (carries) a game, it’s kind of tough.’”
You can listen to the interview below. Abdullah’s segment starts at 34:45. The Lions-relevant talk begins around the 1:10:00 mark.
The whole interview is worth a listen to just get to know Abdullah as a person. He talks about his offseason workout regimen, what it’s like to be a Muslim in the NFL, which of his teammates are the best basketballers, his views on the protests during the National Anthem, and Matt Patricia (prior to the 1996 allegations coming to light).