10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Is Abdullah eligible to return?

Every week during the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: Per the new rule this season, the Lions don't have to designate their one player allowed to return off injured reserve until he actually returns to practice.

Before, the team had to make that designation right after the player was injured.

It's a better way to operate, and gives teams more flexibility.

When it comes to Ameer Abdullah, who the Lions placed on IR Wednesday with a foot injury, they can wait and see how he progresses with his rehab before making a determination.

Here's how the rule works:

Any time after six weeks have elapsed since being placed on IR, each club is permitted to designate one player for return from IR. The club is required to notify the league office that the player has been "Designated For Return" on the first day he begins practice.

The player cannot be returned to the Active/Inactive List (game action) until eight weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on IR.

For Abdullah, that would mean he could return to practice before Detroit's Week 8 game in Houston. The Lions have their bye Week 10, so the earliest Abdullah could return to game action would be Week 11 vs. Jacksonville at home.

20man: As of right now they appear to be sticking with a one-two combo of Theo Riddick and rookie Dwayne Washington, with Zach Zenner as the No. 3.

Detroit's only been keeping three running backs active on gameday anyways, and they signed George Winn to their practice squad on Wednesday just in case he's needed down the road.

20man: The Lions turn to Riddick to be their lead back, with Washington as the No. 2. Zenner, who was inactive the first two weeks, steps into the No. 3 role.

Riddick has rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries (4.6 average), and has caught another nine passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Washington has carried the ball six times for 32 yards (5.3) with a touchdown.

I expect the Lions to split carries between Riddick and Washington much like they did with Abdullah and Riddick. Zenner will probably get a few carries mixed in there.

The Lions operate a running back by committee approach. I certainly don't expect that to change now that their top rusher is on IR. They might actually split carries up even more.

20man: Ansah didn't practice Wednesday due to the ankle injury he suffered on the third play of the game last week.

It's something we'll have to monitor this week and see how the Lions designate him on Friday's injury report for the game in Green Bay.

I certainly don't expect him to be 100 percent, even if he plays. If he doesn't play, Kerry Hyder could take his place in the starting lineup. All Hyder's done through the first two weeks of the season is lead the NFC in sacks with three.

@ttwentyman I just have a quick question. Bigger surprise? Lions run game success or WR drops vs the Titans? — Nick Coscarelli (@CoscarelliNick) September 20, 2016

20man: I've been on record as saying the run game would be better this year in Abdullah's second season and with some of the changes they made upfront along the offensive line.

The seven drops last week by Lions pass catchers was certainly a surprise to me. Against the Titans, Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin each had two and Riddick had one. That's a remarkably high total for four players that have proven over the years to be pretty sure-handed.

Last week was a bit of an anomaly and I don't expect it to be a trend moving forward.

As for the running game, we'll see how big of a blow losing Abdullah will be. Detroit rushed for at least 100 yards in each of their first two contests. Next they'll face a Packers defense that ranks No. 1 in the NFL against the run (39.0 yards per game) so far this season.

20man: The team signed Zaviar Gooden to the practice squad.

DeAndre Levy (quad), Kyle Van Noy (calf) and Antwione Williams (thigh) all sat out practice on Wednesday, which left Tahir Whitehead and Thurston Armbrister as the only linebackers on the 53-man roster taking part in practice.

I really don't know what to make of that other than maybe the team expects one or two of those injured players back at practice sometime this week, or they plan to play a heck of a lot of nickel in Green Bay Sunday.

If the team planned on bringing up Gooden or the other practice squad linebacker, Steve Longa, to the active roster, they wouldn't technically have to do so until Saturday.

"We'll have guys that'll be able to play and play well," head coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday when asked how he felt about his current depth at linebacker.

20man: It's Week 3.

The playoffs are a long way off, and a lot will happen between now and then.

That being said, later on in the season if the Lions are in the hunt, they could look back at last week's loss as one that got away.

It wouldn't be dissimilar to the way they thought about the home loss to Buffalo in 2014, when they missed three field goals. That loss cost them the division title and a home playoff game.

20man: Just linebacker Jon Bostic is on IR. Josh Bynes was released off injured reserve on Sept. 10.

Bostic seems like a candidate to return from IR, but that's a little cloudier now that Abdullah has gone to IR and could also be a candidate to return. The Lions can only designate one player for return.

20man: I expect that if Zenner is active in Green Bay, he'll play a role on special teams and maybe get a smattering of carries.

The reality is that Dwayne Washington has bumped him down the depth chart. Riddick is No. 1, Washington is No. 2 and Zenner is No. 3.

Washington has size, speed and big-play potential. He's showcased all three since joining the team and deserves the first crack at a bigger role.

20man: It has to be a concern for Teryl Austin and Co.

The Colts and Titans combined the first two weeks to throw two touchdown passes on Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson with better than a 150.0 passer rating. We knew early on he was going to get tested with Darius Slay on the other side. He has to be a little better.

The team is also breaking in a new safety duo with Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson. That is going to take a little time.

The truth is that good pass defense comes down to a cooperative relationship between the pass rush and secondary. When one is good, the other is typically good too. Both haven't been nearly good enough so far this year.

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