More consistency next step for Lions' run game

Posted Jul 30, 2016

Running back Ameer Abdullah wants to make the run game a weapon the Lions can consistently rely on.

Like most aspects of the Detroit Lions’ on-field performance a year ago, the 2015 season was a tale of two halves for both the run game and for running back Ameer Abdullah.

Abdullah rushed for just 225 yards on 63 carries (3.6 average) the first eight games of the season, and began to lose reps when fumbling became an issue. He fumbled five times and lost two.

But a change in philosophy midseason after Jim Bob Cooter took over the offense, and more accountability among players, led to more consistency in the run game the second half of the season.

Abdullah averaged 4.7 yards per carry over the second half of the season as the Lions saw their per game rushing average increase by 28 yards.

Entering his second season, Abdullah is expected to play a big part in the Lions' rushing attack. He’s optimistic they can continue the momentum they built the second half of last season.

“When the team isn’t playing good that’s when you start seeing individual players not playing up to their standard,” Abdullah said of both his and the team’s struggles running the football early on last season. “When we started turning things around we started holding each other more accountable. They held me a lot more accountable.

“We all started as a group galvanizing (each other) and putting it together to be one cohesive group holding each other accountable. We understood that’s what it took to close the season strong last year, so we’re hitting the ground running and understand the sacrifices we made in those last eight games and we have to pick it up right now and excel from that point on.”

Abdullah, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, has been on the field for the first two days of training camp practice Friday and Saturday, but he’s wearing a red no-contact jersey as he works toward normal activity. The team is taking it slow with Abdullah, but he’s expected to be ready to go by Week 1.

“The most important thing is him getting healthy,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Abdullah. “Obviously, he’s been cleared, but it’s just kind of a progression that he’s going through.”

Abdullah said the most important thing to him heading into the season is to make the run game a weapon the team can consistently rely on.

“I take it personal,” he said. “Running the ball well is what we need to do to be a great team. You see every great team that is successful, who makes playoff runs, is a good running team as well as a good passing team. We got better last year, but we have to be consistent.”