Lions backfield could be loaded in 2015

Incumbent Joique Bell and rookie second-round pick Ameer Abdullah have the potential to be very productive together this season.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Lions backfield could be loaded in 2015

Reports out of Detroit Lions training camp are touting a battle for the starting running back position between Joique Bell and second-round rookie Ameer Abdullah. But no matter which back lands the starting gig, this has the potential to be a very productive backfield in 2015.

One of PFF’s Secret Superstars in 2013, Bell struggled early in 2014 before finishing the season very strong. Through Week 7, Bell ranked No. 56 out of 57 backs, averaging a measly 3.3 yards per carry with just seven forced missed tackles and 1.92 yards after contact per attempt. However, Bell took his game to a new level in Week 8 and ranked as our No. 10 running back the rest of 2014. His 26 forced missed tackles almost quadrupled his first-half efforts, while his 3.0 yards after contact per attempt tied for fourth in the league during that span.

In Abdullah, the Lions are getting an explosive playmaker. At Nebraska, 45.9 percent of his yards came on runs of 15+ yards. Grading as our second-best draft-eligible back, Abdullah forced 57 missed tackles on the season to go with 3.1 yards after contact per attempt. Two concerning games aside, Abdullah really impressed with his elusiveness and patience in the hole. One area that is always a concern with rookie running backs is in pass protection, and Abdullah is no exception, having given up four sacks in one game against Wisconsin.

No matter how this battle shakes out, if Bell plays to his levels from 2013 and the second half of 2014, and Abdullah rewards the Lions on their early draft selection, Detroit will have a loaded backfield. Remember, they also have Theo Riddick available, primarily as a receiving threat.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • Eric O. Nelson, III

    Totally agree. Although most national pundits see the lions taking major steps back, their offense is going to be significantly improved up front and at running back. They are going to have a deadly and balanced offense. They will be fun to watch.

    • Mike

      Yeah, the national media keeps telling us the Vikings and the messiah, Mike Zimmer have already surged by the Lions. Can’t wait until they prove everyone wrong.

    • Malachi

      i like what lions did on draft day, getting abdullah plus interior lineman tomlinson and manny ramirez to pair with warford. those are three solid, massively strong gap scheme blockers. if ebron steps up and the D maintains, the lions could be potent

  • Kent Lee Platte

    The fumbling is going to be the concern. Bell is a fumble machine, while Abdullah has that reputation coming out of college. If they can keep that under control, it can be very good.

  • Casey Michael

    I hope im wrong, but i dont expect much from Bell. I was reading he was not in “football” shape. The guy has not practiced with the team at all. I think the lions game 1 starters will be between Riddick, and Abdullah.

  • Ganagei Waya Kataga

    Zenner is grading out to be the best RB after two games for the Lions.