Lions' Ameer Abdullah ditches red jersey

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — It appears the bubble wrap is coming off Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah.

Following offseason shoulder surgery, Abdullah has been practicing all training camp in a numberless red jersey, designating no contact. On Saturday, even though the Lions didn't do any meaningful work during a light practice, the running back was back to wearing his standard No. 21 blue uniform.

"Hopefully, I have a shot at making the team now," Abdullah joked.

And while the switch doesn't indicate he's been fully cleared, it's a positive sign as the team begins preparation for its third exhibition contest, Saturday in Baltimore.

At this point, Abdullah hasn't been told he'll play in the game against the Ravens, but his fingers are crossed.

"I'm happy to be presented with an opportunity to possibly be playing this week," he said. "And if I am given the opportunity, I want to make the most of it."

Rust isn't a big concern for the second-year back out of Nebraska. He compared playing football to riding a bike and believes any rust will be knocked off when he absorbs his first hit. As for the mental components of the game, he says he's fully up to speed.

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As a rookie last season, Abdullah rushed for 597 yards on 143 carries. He struggled with ball security issues early in the campaign, but closed out the year strong. He fumbled just once over the final 10 games while averaging an impressive 4.7 yards per carry.

He's expected to have an increased role in Detroit's ground game this year.

"Obviously, he has got some special traits that you don't have with every single player," coach Jim Caldwell said. "He can run, make you miss, catch the ball. He's a well-rounded individual. He can help us in a number of ways."

And while Abdullah has been chomping at the bit to return to action, he admits he's been appreciative of how cautious the team has been with his reintroduction to contact.

"They take care of your players," Abdullah said. "I appreciate how they handled me throughout this process and now it's time for me to return the favor and do what I'm supposed to do."

Twitter: @justin_rogers