Lions snap counts: Abdullah kept on short tether
After an impressive display in his exhibition debut, Lions running back Ameer Abdullah didn't have many opportunities to shine again Thursday night against Washington.
This year's second-round pick, Abdullah played just seven snaps on offense with two carries for 7 yards, though he had another 1-yard run eliminated by a penalty. He also had a 7-yard punt return, which was also negated by a penalty, in the 21-17 loss at FedEx Field.
Asked if the Lions were preserving Abdullah because he's already shown coaches what they want to see, coach Jim Caldwell said his limited action was simply circumstantial.
"Circumstances within the ballgame, just kind of the flow of things and how they go," Caldwell said.
Obviously, the Lions will try to keep Abdullah healthy this preseason, especially while Joique Bell continues to recover from offseason surgeries. Abdullah didn't participate much in team drills Tuesday, the last practice before Thursday's game, and Caldwell said that decision wasn't related to an injury.
Assuming that's the case, it looks like the Lions planned to limit Abdullah in the second exhibition.
With the rookie playing just seven snaps and Thursday's starter Theo Riddick in for just nine, the coaches took the opportunity to look at the other running backs at the back of the depth chart. Riddick finished with three carries for 4 yards and a 9-yard catch.
George Winn had 13 offensive snaps — three carries for 10 yards — and 10 special teams plays. Zach Zenner, who starred with 22 yards on four runs and five catches for 59 yards, received the most snaps in the backfield with 20. He also had six special teams plays, too. Desmond Martin played eight snaps and had a 3-yard carry.
Here are some other notable snap counts from Thursday's game:
*Ryan Broyles played just 11 snaps, which was fewer than every wide receiver except undrafted rookies Jarred Haggins (seven) and Vernon Johnson (six). Players limited to the fourth quarter of the second exhibition generally have little chance of making the team, and the only explanation Caldwell provided for Broyles' lack of playing time was "coach's decision." He did catch all three of his targets for 31 yards, though, so perhaps he'll play a bit more next week.
*Besides No. 4 quarterback Garrett Gilbert, safety Taylor Mays was the only active player who didn't play, and Caldwell described that as a "coach's decision," too. A former second-round pick, Mays was mostly unimpressive during camp. Instead, the Lions gave undrafted rookies Isaiah Johnson (45 snaps) and Brian Suite (28 snaps) a ton of run.
*Though Gilbert and Mays were sidelined for the whole game, offensive tackle Xavier Proctor and guard Torrian Wilson played exclusively on special teams, combining for just three plays. Linebacker Kevin Snyder had two special teams plays before leaving with a hand injury, but it's unclear if the injury led to his lack of action on defense.
*The offensive coaches are clearly curious about interior offensive lineman Taylor Boggs. For the second straight week, the training camp star led all offensive players in snaps with 43 Thursday, splitting time at right guard and center.
*Tight end Eric Ebron played 12 snaps, which was a few more than Brandon Pettigrew's seven. Joseph Fauria, who sat last week, played 15. Jordan Thompson played eight before his knee injury and Casey Pierce played nine.
*On defense, the coaches obviously wanted to see a lot of Larry Webster as the second-year defensive end ranked second in snaps for a second week in a row. A fourth-round pick last year, Webster had 40 snaps Thursday — Phillip Hunt's 37 made him the only other defensive lineman with more than 28 — but Webster didn't record a single statistic.