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Posts tagged with "Ameer Abdullah"

The Cardinals clearly planned to bring Haason Reddick along slowly in his NFL debut on Sunday, rotating their first-round pick with Josh Bynes at inside linebacker.

It didn’t take long for Reddick to prove he was ready for the grand stage. The talented youngster avoided the mental errors that plagued him in the preseason and consistently showed well against the run and in coverage.

Reddick totaled 10 tackles in the game, including two for loss. He was given an 82.6 grade by Pro Football Focus, the highest on the team.

“He was outstanding,” coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s one of those young guys that played extremely well. He got the one penalty with hands to the face, but he was going full speed. He’s fast and he’s going to be a heck of a player.”

Three plays stood out to me: the throw in the flat to Theo Riddick which Reddick stuffed for a one-yard loss on third-and-1; a tackle of Ameer Abdullah on a stretch play; and the blitz off the edge when he just missed Matthew Stafford for a sack.

Reddick had two quarterback pressures on his five pass-rushes, per PFF, and didn’t miss a tackle in his six attempts. The athletic explosion is apparent, and it will be interesting to see how Reddick is deployed moving forward since versatility is one of his big strengths.

In a game where a lot of things went wrong, Reddick was a bright spot.

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One of the biggest criticisms of the Detroit Lions 2017 draft class is that they didn’t select a runningback. The Lions had a chance at landing some of the top backs in the class, but decided the current crop of Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, and Dwayne Washington are more than serviceable. Or maybe not.

Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson reports the Lions are one of two teams in play for former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. From Robinson:

LEAGUE SOURCES SAID AT LEAST TWO TEAMS ARE SQUARELY IN PLAY FOR BLOUNT NOW THAT THE DRAFT HAS ENDED: THE DETROIT LIONS AND NEW YORK GIANTS, TWO FRANCHISES THAT ARE STILL MULLING THE ADDITION OF A BELL-COW RUNNING BACK TO EAT UP SOME EARLY-DOWN AND SHORT-YARDAGE CARRIES NEXT SEASON.

Blount, 30, has been on a lot of Lions fans radars the entire offseason. The Lions sturggled picking up first downs in short yardage situations last year, and there may be no better 3rd-and-short runningback in the league then Blount. He is also a beast near the goal line, evidenced by his league-leading 18 rushing touchdowns last season. To put it in perspective, the Lions have only had 16 rushing touchdowns combined the past two seasons. His 3.9 yards per carry last season would have rated him second on the Lions behind Abdullah, who carried the ball just 18 times last year.

There should be an err of confidence for Lions fans seeing as how Detroit does offer a better chance to win than the Giants do, and Blount would have a clearly defined role here in Detroit, and a sizable one at that.

 Blount would offer a nice change of pace and a three-headed monster of him, Abdullah, and Riddick in the backfield is something that no opposing defenses want to see. We’ve already spent our offseason upgrading the offensive line, which should help the running game regardless, but being able to convert those 3rd-and-4th-and-ones will extend drives, keep the defense off the field, and add wins.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is one of the year’s best running back prospects, though could be off the board before Detroit has a chance to consider him. (AP File Photo)

This is the fourth of an seven-part series previewing the Detroit Lions’ positional needs and priorities heading into the NFL draft. The installments are ordered by need, starting with where help is needed the least and ending where it’s needed the most.

Running back

Current starter: Ameer Abdullah
Current reserves: Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington, Mike James
Best in class: LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Stanford’s Christian McCaffreyFlorida State’s Dalvin Cook
First-round possibilities for Detroit (21st overall): McCaffrey, Cook
Day 2-3 fits: Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara, Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon, Toledo’s Kareem Hunt, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, Texas’ D’Onta Foreman
Late-round possibilities: Pittsburgh’s James Conner, Wisconsin’s Corey Clement, San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey, Wyoming’s Brian Hill, Utah’s Joe Williams, UL Lafayette’s Elijah McGuire
Breakdown: The running game was brutal last year. Overmatched. Outplayed. Underwhelming. However you want to put it, it was bad. But while the backfield wasn’t great, the line was just as bad and often worse. Detroit gained the fewest yards before first contact last year, and led the league in runs that failed to gain yardage at all. Which is to say, the offensive line was getting blown away far too often.

So when Bob Quinn embarked on the offseason determined to improve the running game, his first priority wasn’t to throw money at Eddie Lacy or Latavius Murray or another running back. It was to fortify the offensive line, and he did it by landing two first-rate big uglies in T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner. Throw in the return of Abdullah and Riddick, and the running game has already improved.

That gives the Lions a lot of flexibility as they proceed trying to find a running back in the draft (and is a big reason why running back isn’t among our three biggest priorities for Detroit). They could take one of the first-round prospects, especially if a difference-maker like Christian McCaffrey were to fall to 21. The Stanford star is a freak athlete who is tremendous as a receiver as well, so much so that he doesn’t get enough credit for what he can do between the tackles. (He faced more loaded boxes than any of the other top draft prospects, yet still averaged 6.3 yards per carry and ranked fourth in the country in rushing.)

McCaffrey is probably is going to be off the board, though, along with top 10 prospect Leonard Fournette. More than likely, Dalvin Cook will be the best back available to Detroit, but he has character issues after being investigated multiple times for crimes at Florida State. Some analysts have said there’s more concern about Cook than Joe Mixon, who broke a woman’s face.

If the Lions were to go running back in the first round, they would be adding a difference-maker to a rotation that already includes the talented but injured duo of Abdullah and Riddick. But they feel good enough about Abdullah and Riddick that they don’t need to take a tailback so early either. Especially this year, when there is stunning array and depth of talent at the position.

They could wait until Day 2 or even Day 3 to complement those guys’ speed with a power back such as Samaje Perine or D’Onta Foreman. Or they could go for athleticism instead, acquiring injury insurance for Abdullah and Riddick by drafting another speedster like Alvin Kamara or Donnel Pumphrey. And that would give them another option at returner as well.

A name to watch in the middle rounds is Kareem Hunt, the outstanding running back out of Toledo. The 5-foot-10, 216-pounder is a brawler between the tackles, but has some nice elusiveness as well. He forced 98 missed tackles last year, according to ProFootballFocus, which was second in the country. And on 855 career touches, he fumbled just once. He recovered it too. As Kanye West would say, that’s cray.

Then there’s the Mixon dilemma to consider.

The Oklahoma star averaged nearly 7 yards per carry for his career, and is one of the best pure talents in the draft. He might have been a first-round pick. But he also was convicted of assault after punching a female student in the face in 2014, and is expected to fall (though maybe not as far as initially expected). Bob Quinn has expressed interest in the running back as well, though declined to say in recent weeks whether he remained on the team’s board. If the Lions don’t take a running back in the first round and Mixon’s still there when they’re back on the clock at 53rd overall, it’ll be fascinating to see what they do. Because there’s no doubt he would upgrade the running game, but Detroit would also catch serious flak for talking tough about violence against women, then drafting the year’s most notorious perpetrator of exactly that.

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The Detroit Lions head into the 2017 season with no shortage of key characters and key personalities to watch who will determine how far they manage to go.

Here’s a look at the key characters to watch next season.

(Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: www.DetroitLions.com)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports)

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What do you know, the Cleveland Browns are not on the schedule!

The NFL released the preseason schedule for the Detroit Lions on Monday afternoon. To start the year off, head coach Jim Caldwell will face his former team, the Indianapolis Colts. Week 1 of the regular season ended well for the Lions last year against the Colts, maybe they can have similar results.

The second week will be Lions fan’s first experience at Ford Field with the swanky new upgrades. Only two years removed from initiating the Ameer Abdullah hype train, the New York Jets return to witness the recently renovated stadium.

As previously rumored, the Lions will host the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in their dress rehearsal game.

It can be difficult to justify paying full price for a ticket to only see backup quality players, but almost three full quarters of starter action against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady seems reasonable. This could end up being the last time Brady makes it to Ford Field.

To cap it all off, the Lions will end their preseason action against the Buffalo Bills–a tradition that has been held since 2002. The fourth and final preseason game is riddled with practice squad players and undrafted free agents, but every so often, hidden gems can be unveiled. DE Kerry Hyder was a projected cut before the Bills game last year, only to register three sacks and secure himself a roster spot.

No firm dates or times have been set as to when the exhibition games will be played.

The regular season schedule is presumed to be announced sometime before months end. With all of the opponents already decided, it’s just a matter of determining when the games will take place. Outside of the Lions six divisional games, Detroit will play the entire NFC South and AFC North, along with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants.

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