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Lions' Ameer Abdullah gets immediate look as punt returner

5/8/2015
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Journey to the draft: Ameer Abdullah

Watch some of the top plays from Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- On his first day in the NFL, Ameer Abdullah did more than become comfortable as a running back with the Detroit Lions.

He familiarized himself with the return game as well.

While he said he didn’t take many reps live, the Lions’ second-round pick said he did work on punt returns Friday afternoon during the first day of rookie minicamp -- something he had not done in a game since his sophomore season at Nebraska in 2012.

“Pretty good day,” Abdullah said. “Didn’t have much live reps. I’m looking forward to getting more acclimated back there again. It’s different rules in the NFL and better punters.

“So I’m just looking forward to continue to do it.”

Abdullah had 31 punt returns for 316 yards and a touchdown during his first two years at Nebraska, averaging 10.2 yards per return. He returned at least four kicks in every season with the Cornhuskers, making 61 returns for 1,592 yards and one touchdown.

He did not work on kick returns Friday, but that’s likely because the Lions didn’t work on kick returns, either.

Abdullah said the Lions have not talked with him much about trying to win the punt return job and that he, not surprisingly, just wants to play. But it is a job that clearly appears to be somewhat open after Jeremy Ross muffed two punts late last season and had an 8.9-yard punt return average.

The Lions brought in multiple return candidates on pre-draft visits. They didn’t draft any of those players but having Abdullah back there on the first day of rookie minicamp should signal the Lions are at least interested in him competing for the gig.

“He’s an athlete and he works hard,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “So if a guy works hard, I think he’s got a chance to continue to improve.”