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Allen Park — For a rookie, Dwayne Washington isn’t lacking confidence. The Detroit Lions running back, who is expected to take on a larger role in the backfield after the team placed starter Ameer Abdullah on injured reserve, is up for the challenge.

“Once a guy goes down, you always got to step up,” Washington said. “Right now, I’m the guy that has to step up.”

Washington has been a revelation as a seventh-round draft pick. A big-play threat in college, he struggled to seize a bigger role in the offense because of ball security issues. That problem hasn’t shown up on game day since joining the Lions.

“Now, I’m a little stronger with my hands, a little more intent on keeping those five points of pressure,” Washington said.

More importantly, the big-play potential has ported over. He had a 58-yard touchdown run and 96-yard kickoff return during the preseason, and a 28-yard carry against the Tennessee Titans last week.

For Washington, a high school wide receiver, he feels like he’s just starting to hit his stride as a ball carrier.

“In college, (my run game) was kind of itchy,” Washington said. “Now, I’m just catching on to it.”

Itchy?

“Just a little itchy,” he said.

With Abdullah out at least eight weeks, the Lions need someone capable of scratching out the tough yards and the 6-foot-2, 226-pound Washington figures to part a big part in filling that void.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @justin_rogers

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