Abdullah, a 2015 second-round pick by the Lions, played just two healthy seasons in Detroit, starting 22 games in three and a half years. He had two seasons of 700 scrimmage yards, but never became the bell cow back the Lions hoped for. With rookie Kerryon Johnson excelling and Theo Riddick providing a reliable receiving option, Detroit no longer had room for the former Nebraska Cornhusker.
For Minnesota, the move brings little risk with the potential for some solid reward. Abdullah will be no higher than third on the Vikings’ running back depth chart behind Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. But given Cook’s recent injury troubles and the Vikings’ penchant for using three backs, Abdullah’s experience should prove invaluable. Minnesota likely will not rely on him for more than 10 touches a game, even if Cook goes down again. But he is capable of handling a light workload and being moderately productive in that role.
Minnesota does not have to invest much into Abdullah like Detroit did, either. The only real loss is Thomas, who while a solid preseason back, was not a consistent weapon. Fellow rookie Mike Boone generally received more looks as the third back. Abdullah should be a step up from both Thomas and Boone, but chances are Boone will still see the occasional carry moving forward.
Abdullah likely will not be the difference in the Vikings’ run at a Super Bowl this year. However, having an experienced runner on the back end of the depth chart is a solid perk. If nothing else, the cupboard does not appear as bare should, knock on wood, Cook struggle further with injuries down the line.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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