EAGAN, Minn. — Ameer Abdullah still resides in the NFC North, but he's on a new team for the stretch run of the 2018 season.
Minnesota added the former Lions running back to its roster on Wednesday, shortly before the Vikings had a few days off to rest up during the bye week.
When the team returned to work Monday, Abdullah was the new guy on the team, although he had stood on the sideline at U.S. Bank Stadium eight days earlier as a member of a division rival.
Abdullah expressed his excitement about now being on the 5-3-1 Vikings, a team that is in the hunt for both a division title and a playoff berth.
"Man, life is amazingly unpredictable. I'm excited to be here. It's a great team, great culture, great atmosphere to be joining," Abdullah said. "Ironically, it's in the same division, so everything happens for a reason, and I'm really excited to be here in Minnesota.
"I'm happy to have already built relationships with a lot of guys here. They welcomed me in with a warm welcome and have helped with everything — learning when we need to be here or go there, to different lifts and stuff I haven't done before," Abdullah later added. "I really appreciate it, because you never know how it's going to be changing midseason, especially to a division rival team. It's everything I would have hoped for."
Abdullah was a second-round selection by the Lions, who tabbed him with the 54th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has 327 career carries for 1,251 yards [3.8 yards per carry] with six rushing touchdowns. Abdullah is also an option out of the backfield with 57 career catches for 420 yards and three scores.
He has joined a running backs room that features Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook along with Mike Boone and fullback C.J. Ham.
Abdullah has also excelled on special teams with 49 career kickoff returns for 1,363 yards, an average of 27.8 yards per return. He has a career-long of 104 yards on a kickoff return against Green Bay in 2015 but was tackled at the 1-yard line.
Abdullah, who led the league in kickoff returns (37) and kickoff return yardage (1,077) in 2015, said he'd be open to any role with the Vikings going forward.
"I sure hope so," Abdullah said about potentially returning kickoffs. "I'm sure we'll get more into the nooks and crannies of things as the week progresses, but right now I'm just trying to figure out how I can get into the gate with the code to the door so I won't be locked out in the cold.
"I'm entering a backfield with a lot of talent [with] Dalvin and Latavius and all of the guys who have been here. Just to come in today and see these guys welcome me the way they have, it's been amazing," Abdullah also added. "It does a lot for my confidence and a lot for my focus. I'm ready to work. Anything the Vikings ask me to do, I'm willing to do just because I'm so appreciative of the opportunity."
Abdullah saw a familiar face right away with the Vikings as his locker is next to left tackle Riley Reiff, who played with Abdullah in Detroit in 2015 and 2016.
"Man, right next to him. I didn't expect that," Abdullah said. "Obviously Riley Reiff, I played with him in Detroit and ran behind him for a couple years and now my locker is right next to him. He expressed how happy he was to have me on the team."
The 25-year-old also noted that he trained with Vikings linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks in California this offseason.
The Vikings know Abdullah well, as he has played four career games against Minnesota, including home-and-away games in both 2015 and 2017.
He has 40 career carries for 160 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. Abdullah also has six career kickoff returns for 163 yards (27.2 per attempt) against the Vikings.
Abdullah, who said he was "blown away" by the facilities at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, said he spent the weekend focusing on the transition to Minnesota.
Now that the week has begun, however, Abdullah said he's ready to help the Vikings contend for an NFC North title starting with a Week 11 showdown against the Bears in Chicago on Sunday Night Football.
"I'm coming in with no expectations [for playing time]," Abdullah said. "You've got to come in and work."