Caldwell won't say if Abdullah was out due to performance

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions running back Theo Riddick picks up a big gain on the Lions' game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

Tampa, Fla. — For the second consecutive game, running back Ameer Abdullah was sidelined. He had been listed as questionable with a neck injury, but an NFL Network report suggests the running back was healthy enough to play and his status was related more to performance.

“We don’t go into details about everything, but obviously he’s still nursing an injury,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said after the game. “But he’s coming along. I think he’ll be ready to go here shortly.”

The Lions made minimal upgrades to their running back depth in the offseason. General manager Bob Quinn definitively labeled Abdullah the team’s starter this offseason.

He started the first 11 games of the season and had nearly three times as many carries as Theo Riddick, the team’s top backup. With Abdullah out, Riddick started the past two games, carrying the ball 19 times for 48 yards (2.5 YPC) and three touchdowns, while adding another 11 catches for 105 yards as a receiving option out of the backfield.

Caldwell was asked if Abdullah remains at the top of the team’s depth chart.

“We don’t talk about number ones, number twos,” Caldwell said. “That’s you guys’ business. We just have a three-man rotation with three guys that we have up. All three guys play.”

Abdullah is the team’s leading rusher this season, but is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. Only Tion Green is better, at 4.1 yards per carry, but the sample size is small and buoyed by a 33-yard run on his first NFL carry last week.

Against the Bucs, Green gained 15 yards on five carries.

Others sidelined

In addition to Abdullah, the following Lions players were inactive against the Bucs: Running back Dwayne Washington, wide receiver Bradley Marquez, linebacker Nick Bellore, return man Jamal Agnew, offensive tackle Rick Wagner and guard Emmett Cleary.

Wagner had been ruled out earlier in the week with an ankle injury. Agnew missed his third straight with a knee injury.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who entered the day questionable with a hand injury, made his 109th consecutive start in the win over the Buccaneers.

Stafford practiced on a limited basis throughout the week after having his hand accidentally stepped on by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs last Sunday.