EAGAN, Minn. — Ameer Abdullah is staying in the NFC North and with the Vikings.
The running back/return specialist signed a new contract with the Vikings, the team announced Monday.
The Alabama native and former Nebraska Cornhusker explained his excitement about returning to the Vikings during a FaceTime interview with Vikings.com’s Mike Wobschall.
“It’s amazing; it’s exactly what I wanted heading into this process,” Abdullah said. “I was hoping that Minnesota was going to bring me back. It was exactly what I wanted. [Vikings General Manager] Rick [Spielman], his son [J.D.] goes to Nebraska, so we always have had that connection with the alma mater.
“Coach KP (running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu), he was excited to hear that I decided to come back, so everything is falling right into place,” Abdullah added. “I’m glad to be back with a great team and a great organization.”
A second-round pick of the Lions in 2015, Abdullah was claimed by the Vikings after his release by Detroit in 2018.
He appeared in seven games for the Vikings but was used sparingly on offense in 2018. He did not have a rush attempt and caught one pass for 10 yards (was targeted twice) after coming to Minnesota.
View photos of Vikings RB Ameer Abdullah who re-signed with the team.
Abdullah did, however, return 10 kickoffs for a total of 258 yards (average of 25.8) with a long of 33.
“It was such a transition,” Abdullah said of the midseason move. “In the NFL, sometimes you think it’s a cookie-cutter league. You think you can go to a new team and just hit the ground running, but every team, I’ve learned, they lead themselves differently, and I respect how the Minnesota Vikings lead the organization. It really made me feel like I was at home. The brotherhood automatically clicked right away, and you can tell winning is the only goal, and they’re going to do what is right for the players to ensure that we get more wins.”
In four seasons, Abdullah has totaled 1,251 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 327 career carries (3.8 yards per rush) and caught 58 passes for 430 yards and three scores.
As a rookie, Abdullah led the NFL in kickoff returns (37) and kickoff return yards (1,077) and ranked second with a kickoff return average of 29.1 yards.
He has totaled 1,621 yards on 59 kickoff returns (27.5 yards per return).
Abdullah’s role in the offense could increase with Latavius Murray heading to New Orleans this week via free agency.
Dalvin Cook is Minnesota’s lead running back, having led the Vikings with 615 rush yards on 133 carries (4.6 yards per rush). Cook missed five games in 2018 with a hamstring injury, but his 40 receptions were fourth-most on the team.
The other running backs under contract for 2019 are Mike Boone and Roc Thomas, who joined the Vikings as undrafted free agents last year.
Boone rushed 11 times for 47 yards with a long of 20, and Thomas rushed eight times for 30 yards in 2018.
Abdullah said he was excited to see that Anthony Barr is returning to the Vikings. The two have been training together in the Los Angeles area this offseason.
“He’s become a really good friend of mine,” Abdullah said. “To get a guy who can rush the passer, drop back, cover running backs in open space, and also be such an energy plug for this team, I think it was an outstanding move for the Vikings to do. This defense has been the anchor of this team for so long and keeping that core together, that nucleus together is important.”