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Detroit Lions rookie Ameer Abdullah compared to Barry Sanders

Detroit Lions rookie Ameer Abdullah compared to Barry Sanders
Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah runs against the New York Jets during the first quarter of a preseason game on Thursday. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Despite being in the running for the Heisman Trophy last year, former Nebraska player Ameer Abdullah was largely unmentioned in talk about the best running backs in the 2015 draft.

Now, after 15 snaps in a preseason game, he's being compared to one of the greatest running backs in NFL history: Barry Sanders.

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First-year Jets Coach Todd Bowles wasted no time in comparing the Detroit rookie to one of if not the greatest player in Lions history.

"He's quick as a cat. He's about as quick as Barry Sanders," Bowles said after the game. "I'm not saying he is Barry, but he's a good running back."

Abdullah broke off 67 yards in seven carries against the New York Jets -- one of those a 45-yarder -- during a preseason game Thursday night.

On the longest carry of the game by both teams, Abdullah created a hole up the right side by throwing the Jets' defense off his line with a shoulder shake and then rode up the field in between blocks from his teammates for a 45-yard gain.

It was good. But that doesn't make him Barry Sanders.

The Hall of Fame running back put up 15,269 yards in the regular season over 10 with 99 rushing touchdowns. In 1997, he rushed for 2,053 yards, the fourth most ever in a single season.

In four years at Nebraska, Abdullah racked up 4,588 rushing yards with back-to-back seasons in which he ran for more than 1,600 yards. He's also a pass-catcher and logged an additional 690 receiving yards.

Abdullah was the fourth running back selected in the draft overall when the Lions took him with the 54th overall pick in the second round. Todd Gurley (St. Louis Rams), Melvin Gordon (San Diego Chargers) and T.J. Yeldon (Jacksonville Jaguars) were all selected ahead of him.

In Detroit, Abdullah will be the Lions' third-string running back unless Joique Bell or Theo Riddick go down with an injury, or his impressive preseason play continues, in which case he might be able to work up to the No. 2 spot.

Then he'll just need a simple Hall of Fame career to live up to the comparison.

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Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme

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