Allen Park – Ameer Abdullah traveled to North Carolina for an expert opinion on his injured foot and the results weren’t good. On Wednesday morning, the Detroit Lions placed the second-year running back on injured reserve.
The team acknowledged Abdullah had surgery, but wouldn't commit to the possibility of the back returning this season.
"We'll see," coach Jim Caldwell said.
NFL teams are permitted to bring one player back from injured reserve during the season. Unlike recent years, teams no longer need to designate that player ahead of time. Any player placed on injured reserve is eligible to begin practicing after six weeks and can be activated after eight. That would mean the earliest Abdullah could rejoin the Lions would be the team's Week 11 matchup against Jacksonville.
Abdullah suffered the injury during a second-quarter run Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, cutting and spinning his way to a 24-yard gain before heading to the sidelines to be evaluated by team trainers.
After missing much of the offseason rehabbing from shoulder surgery, and wearing a red, no-contact jersey through the first half of training camp, Abdullah had got off to a strong start to the season, rushing for 101 yards on 18 carries (5.6 YPC) and catching five passes for 57 yards.
With Abdullah out, the Lions’ backfield duties will be split between Theo Riddick, rookie Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner.
Riddick has emerged as a capable backfield option, averaging 4.6 yards per carry during the stretch. Caldwell confirmed Riddick will serve as the lead back in the rotation.
"You’re going to see from game to game, we go about it different ways for different reasons," Caldwell said. "Obviously Theo is the veteran guy back there, the most productive guy that we’ve got back there at this particular point in time. So yeah, he’s the lead guy, but the fact of the matter is it’ll be some other guys carrying the ball as well. It just depends on how much depending upon exactly what type of attack we decide to use."
Washington, a seventh-round draft pick, offers big-play potential. In each of his three seasons at the University of Washington, he recorded a carry of more than 65 yards each year. In the preseason, he showed that same ability, returning a kickoff 96 yards and scoring on a second touchdown on a 58-yard run in the exhibition finale.
Against the Titans last week, Washington broke free for 28 yards on one of his four carries.
"When he touches the ball he’s generally pretty productive, but he’s young," Caldwell said. "But I think you’ll see him improve and keep getting better week by week."
Zenner, a preseason standout in 2015, has been inactive the first two contests this year.
"The job still needs to get done," Zenner said. "They don't pause the games. Maybe a couple things will change, but for the most part, it will be the same."
Additionally, the team re-signed running back George Winn to the practice squad for some added depth.
On Monday, the team worked out former Lions running back Joique Bell, but a contract offer wasn’t immediately extended.
Through two weeks, Detroit has been one of the league's most efficient ground games, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. That ranks third in the NFL, behind only Oakland and Cleveland. Keeping that success going will be a tall task without Abdullah and facing Green Bay this week.
The Packers have allowed their two opponents to gain a combined 78 yards on the ground, averaging a minuscule 1.6 yards per attempt.
"(We've had a) strong emphasis and commitment to it throughout training camp," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think it’s something that we established in the preseason and has carried over. As we know, it’s a challenge each and every week and it comes down to matchups and scheme presentation and we’ll definitely be challenged this week."