Nothing is official yet, but all indications are that when the Vikings take the field Thursday night against the Saints, Husain Abdullah will be lining up at starting safety alongside Madieu Williams.
Abdullah’s promotion is something of an out-of-leftfield development, given that all training camp and preseason the competition for that spot was between Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson.
Then, in the last preaseason game, Brad Childress threw a curveball by working Abdullah into the safety rotation earlier than expected. That should’ve been a hint that Abdullah was at least in the running.
Now we know that he was more than just “in the running.” He may actually have been the favorite and we just didn’t know it.
It’s also possible that Abdullah’s promotion is a temporary thing entirely related to this week’s opponent. The Saints as we know like to pass a lot, and Abdullah is probably a notch better in coverage than Sanford or Johnson. Against a more run-happy opponent, the Vikes might favor Sanford, who is better in run support. Johnson’s advantage is his experience as a starter.
Abdullah’s rise to starting status may be partially related to his handling of his diet during camp and preseason. In past years, the observant Muslim lost strength – and, possibly, depth chart position – because he was fasting for Ramadan, but this year he says he did a better job managing his nutritional intake, and was able to keep his weight up.
Coincidentally, Ramadan ends on Thursday this year, the same day as the season opener. But Abdullah says he probably won’t eat much before the game, because he doesn’t like playing on a full stomach.