Abdullah thinks he’ll be smarter, better in 2016

AP

After having shoulder surgery in January, Lions running back Ameer Abdullah has been a spectator for most of the team’s offseason program.

Despite having just one season of NFL experience, Abdullah said watching the team’s spring work from the sideline has been beneficial to his growth as he prepares to become the team’s primary ball carrier this season.

“I feel like it’s actually helped me a lot,” Abdullah said of watching from the sideline, per the Detroit Free Press. “I got to look at things just more this offseason from a coaching perspective. So I understand why we do things more and where people are going to be. Like I said, it’s been a very mentally challenging period for me.”

A torn labrum suffered last December forced Abdullah into surgery and onto the sideline this spring.

Abdullah led the Lions in rushing yards (597) last season despite sharing carries with two other players and led the league in kick return yardage. He plans to be fully cleared by training camp and hopes to be a key player in a Lions offense that will need different players to create big plays following the retirement of star wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

“[I’m] just more cerebral,” Abdullah said of his growth. “Understanding the schemes better. Second year, understanding the offense better. Having more experience. A lot more confident.”