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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Where will Ameer Abdullah fit in the Vikings’ backfield?

By Matthew Coller

EAGAN, Minn. – The Minnesota Vikings come out of the bye week with a new face in the locker room — one who could make a difference as a role player down the stretch. Last week, they added running back Ameer Abdullah, who spent the past four years with the Detroit Lions.

Abdullah, a 2015 second-round pick, was the Lions’ feature back in 2015 and 2017, but spent the 2016 season and most of this year battling injuries.

The team elected to move on with the rise of Kerryon Johnson as their top runner.

“Life is amazingly unpredictable,” Abdullah said Monday. “Excited to be here. It’s a great team, great culture, great atmosphere. Ironically in the same division. Everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited to be here in Minnesota.”

When healthy, Abdullah has proven to be a multi-talented back, who can catch the ball and kick return.

In ’15 and ’17, he combined for 50 receptions and created first downs on half of those catches. Last season Pro Football Focus graded him as the 13th best receiving running back in the NFL, just behind Jerick McKinnon and just ahead of New England’s versatile back James White.

Abdullah was occasionally moved to different positions within the Lions’ offense last season, taking 20 snaps as an outside receiver and six snaps in the slot. It’s possible he could see more of those types of looks under the Vikings, who have become fond of sending Dalvin Cook out as a receiver and even used Cook and Latavius Murray on the same play during last week’s win over Detroit.

“I’m entering a backfield with a lot of talent with Dalvin and Latavius and all of the guys who have been here,” Abdullah said. “Just to come in today and see these guys welcome me the way they have, it does a lot for my confidence, it does a lot for my focus. I’m ready to work. Anything the Vikings ask me to, I’m willing to do.”

Last week, Cook gained 89 yards on 10 carries and caught four passes for 20 yards. Murray also rushed 10 times and caught one pass against the Lions.

Making an impact after joining a team mid-season may be challenging for Abdullah, who is behind two starting-caliber backs — not to mention he has never seen his new team’s playbook before this week. So it would be a lot to expect Abdullah to fit into the offense much more than on an occasional basis to start, but one area where he can make an immediate impact is on special teams.

In ’15, he returned 37 kicks at an impressive 29.2 yards per return. This year he has four returns for 107 yards (26.8 per return). Asked if he might want to get back into the returning game, the Vikings’ new running back said, “I hope so.”

With Mike Hughes sidelined for the rest of the year, returning duties have been split up. Rookie Holton Hill has three returns for 85 yards, Marcus Sherels has two returns for 34 yards, and Aldrick Robinson, Roc Thomas and Brandon Zylstra have each returned one kick with little success.

Wherever he fits in, Abdullah is looking to catch on quickly. He said the transition will be helped by the fact that he works out with Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks in the offseason and has familiarity with other players like Riley Reiff, a former teammate in Detroit.

“I’m happy that I’ve already built a relationship with a lot of guys here who have welcomed me in, warm welcome,” Abdullah said. “They’ve helped me with everything from learning when we need to be here, when we need to go there to different lifts that I haven’t done before. I really appreciate it because you never know how it’s going to be mid-season especially with a division rival team, but it’s everything I hoped for.”

The post Where will Ameer Abdullah fit in the Vikings’ backfield? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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