Lions' Abdullah, Diggs embrace playing angry

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions' Quandre Diggs

Allen Park – Ameer Abdullah didn’t wait long to test his surgically repaired shoulder.

On the fourth carry of his preseason debut, Abdullah darted around the left edge of his offensive line, raced upfield before being confronted by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith near the sideline. Instead of stepping out of bounds, or cutting back inside, Abdullah squared up, lowered his pads and initiated a violent collision to cap an 11-yard gain.

Abdullah joked he was just testing out some new weapons in his arsenal, but the fact of the matter is he’s always run with more power than his frame might belie.

And while his speed and elusiveness remain his defining traits, he simply likes to sometimes remind defenders he’s not afraid of contact.

“I’m an angry guy,” Abdullah said. “When I’m on the field, I don’t why, I’m just angry sometimes. I like to catch people by surprise. A lot of people think they’re just going to break you down, but I really like to lower my shoulder every now and then and let you know that I’m still there and you have to bring it as well.”

Part of that attitude admittedly comes from his size. He’s always one of the smallest players on the field, but doesn’t want that to be perceived as a weakness. The other element that fuels him is wanting to maximize the limited opportunities he has to make a play.

“For me, I just think, personally, of how hard I’ve worked to get to this point. That usually gets me pretty fired up,” he said.  “You put in so much work and you only have 60 minutes. I’m upset I only have 60 minutes to do so, so every play you try to make the most of it, physically and mentally.”

Ameer Abdullah

Abdullah said he’s not the only person on the roster who plays with that edge. On the other side of the ball, he believes cornerback Quandre Diggs generates energy from similar motivations.

“That’s how I’m wired,” Diggs said. “That came from my environment, where I grew up. Sure, I play angry, but it’s an anger that controlled.”

Diggs has always had to fight a little harder than others. The half-brother of former NFL standout Quentin Jammer, Diggs was typically the youngest, and smallest, kid in the neighborhood football games. And while Jammer developed into an imposing physical presence at 6-foot, 205 pounds, Diggs stopped growing at 5-foot-9.

And despite a successful college career at Texas, Diggs continued to be doubted after posting average metrics at the NFL combine, which led to him falling to the sixth round of the draft in 2015.

Now, entering his second season, he’s slotted to be Lions starting nickel cornerback.

“I’ve been dialed in my entire life,” Diggs said. “I don’t need extra motivation. People have given my enough motivation.”