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Rampage's Abdullah making transition to arena football

Chip Burch
Friday April 18, 2008

Grand Rapids Rampage defensive lineman Rahim Abdullah has been around some football fields in his career.

However he's a rookie in his latest gridiron stop.

Abdullah is making his debut in the Arena Football League this season after stops in college football, the NFL and the Canadian Football League. He's having to learn a different game in arena football.

“I still think I'm transitioning,” he said. “It's nice.”

Abdullah is still having to get used to a few of the nuances of the AFL.

“The illegal defense in the league,” he cited. “You have to be so tight to the linemen. I want to rush the quarterback but if I go past the guard it's an illegal defense. I have to play so tight to the guard.”

Abdullah has also played in the CFL, spending the last seven season with the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders. He was part of the 2003 Eskimos team that won the Grey Cup, making eight sacks to tie for the team lead. Last year he had 17 tackles and five sacks for Edmonton.

Before going north of the border he played two seasons with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, where he was drafted in the second round out of Clemson. He had 90 tackles in his fist full season with the Browns, then played in only 13 games the next season due to a groin injury.

Abdullah still would like to be in “the show.”

“Obviously the NFL,” he said. “But the AFL, it's exciting. It's still football and it's still fun. I love the game. It's a great game. It's very exciting. You take our first two games for example. The first two games went wrong and we lost. The last two games we won and everything went right.”

Abdullah is referring to opening losses to the San Jose Sabercats and the Chicago Rush and big wins over the Kansas City Brigade and Los Angeles Avengers. The Rampage are on a two-game losing streak after losses to the New York Dragons and the Orlando Predators.

“It was looking real bleak at times,” he said of the start of the season. “The first game we lost we feel like a controversial call in the end zone that if we got that you didn't know what was going to happen. The second game we weren't ready. The game against Kansas City we played great.”

Abdullah's not doing too bad himself. Through five games he has 8.5 tackles, including 2.5 sacks, which is second behind Leif Murphy. He's also forced a team-high three fumbles.

“We're feeling pretty good,” he said of the team. “We don't feel great because we can play better. We know we're not getting enough pressure on the quarterback and we're getting better. We have a lot of rookies, but you can only use that excuse for so long.”

Abdullah should know. He's one of four rookies that started on defense in the San Jose game.

Chip Burch has been covering the Rampage since 2005. He is a sports reporter for WSCG AM-FM in Greenville Michigan, where he currently resides.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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