Ameer Abdullah ran for more than 1,600 yards in each of his last two seasons at Nebraska, but it’s his receiving skills that have pleasantly surprised the Lions through nine OTA practices this spring.
“I like Abdullah more every day,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said after Wednesday’s open OTA practice. “Every day you can see him do things that really excite you.
“He didn’t get a chance maybe to show everything he can do as a receiver at Nebraska, but he’s even better in that phase of the game than I thought when we drafted him, so it was kind of a bonus when you see how well he catches the ball and how well he runs routes.”
Abdullah's ability to stop and start and change direction could be a huge asset in space.
“He does a lot of things well for a young guy, but one thing you notice quickly is he can catch the ball,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “He catches it and knows what to do with it when he gets it in his hands. He’s making good progress in that area.”
Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Joique Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Theo Riddick’s role as the Lions’ third-down back is in serious jeopardy. If things break his way and he sees significant time on passing downs, Abdullah could ultimately post top 25 numbers in PPR formats.