"It's frustrating, especially coming from Nebraska where I was the guy, I knew I was going to get the ball at least 20 times a game," Abdullah said. "For me, it's not necessarily getting a certain number of touches. It's getting meaningful touches and getting into a rhythm. That's where it gets kind of frustrating."
The 24-year-old Alabama native tallied at least 250 touches in each of his final three seasons with the Cornhuskers. He hasn't finished with more than 190 touches in any campaign since the Lions selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft.
He missed all but two games in 2016 because of a foot injury.
Abdullah has failed to make a major impact when he does receive opportunities, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry across 326 career attempts. He told Rapaport being unable to establish a rhythm is a key factor.
"The coaches, I trust their game plan; they're much smarter than me," he said. "But it's hard when I come in, I get a carry and break it for about 10 yards, then I come out for about three plays, then I gotta come in to pass protect, then I don't get my next carry until, like, the next quarter."
The situation is unlikely to improve in 2018. In fact, he might be forced to fight for a roster spot during training camp and the preseason after the team signed free agent LeGarrette Blount and drafted Kerryon Johnson in the second round.
It's created a backfield logjam with Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington also competing for touches. Even if Abdullah makes the team, he won't be an every-down back like he desires.