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.