Hobson's Choice: All backers all the time

What is the latest with Khalid Abdullah (injury wise) and how much do you think he contributes to the Bengal's youthful linebacker corps at this point? Does he have the speed and savvy to convert to SS?

I personally see him as a fast, strong, and very talented player with a nose for the football that may be versatile enough to play other positions. Please opine.

Jim from Walland, TN JIM:
We probably won't see Abdullah until the first day of training camp and it could be at any of the three linebacker spots. You guys have to start believing Marvin when he says something, so believe it when it comes to linebackers playing safety.

Just after the draft was completed a week ago, Lewis made a pretty clear statement about moving to safety one of those young, light, and fast backers that he has drafted like Abdullah, Caleb Miller, and Landon Johnson.

"I don't see a linebacker who can play safety in the NFL very well," Lewis said. "He can line up back there and you can write on your depth chart strong safety by his name and feel good about it and someone else will be standing up here next year like last time."

That might have been a reference to either Lamont Thompson or JoJuan Armour, big safeties from the past regime. But, whatever it was, it showed that Lewis is sticking by his belief that he won't sacrifice coverage ability for size and that he wants two-way safeties and that his linebackers are linebackers, period.

You figure that has to be one of the reasons they didn't go near Michigan safety Ernest Shazor. They had four chances to draft him on the second day, and all day to sign him Sunday, so you have to conclude they didn't think his 6-3, 225-pound size would be much use out of the box.

The 6-2 Abdullah, drafted at about 220 pounds, has beefed up to 235 pounds, looks terrific, and insists he has maintained the speed that made him a special teams demon as a rookie. He says they can put him at any of the three spots, and while he seems more designed for the weak side, before the injury he looked to be agile enough and big enough to play the strong. And, he's about the same size as middle backer Landon Johnson. Look for him to be back up a couple of spots, maybe play some in nickel, and be a special teams staple.

We'll see if he's lost any of that speed and athleticism in the healing of the dislocated ankle. He says he can practice now and that he is able to run full tilt on it, but that the trainers won't let him on the field until training camp.

And Abdullah know what that means.

"That's exactly a year," Abdullah said. "I broke it the first Thursday of camp, the day before the intrasquad scrimmage. There's no need to rush it. Once camp starts, I shouldn't have any problems because I can do a lot right now."

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