Offensively Inclined

Since joining the Bears Jerry Angelo has signed several players that have Tampa Bay ties. Rabih Abdullah falls under that category, but he could have the greatest impact of any of the former Buccaneers that have made their way to Chicago.

Than Merrill, Kevin Dogins and Joe Tafoya all spent time with the Bucs and were later signed by Angelo. Despite spending time on the active roster last season none are guaranteed of making the team this year. While, Abdullah is a lock to have a spot on the 53-man roster.

Abdullah and Angelo have a good working relationship, but the main reason he wanted to come to Chicago was an opportunity to play his natural position.

"(Angelo and Abdullah) We had a long conversation and they offered me the opportunity to possibly play running back here as opposed to fullback."

The 6-0, 220 pound Abdullah will backup Anthony Thomas and Leon. However, he knows his real contribution to the team will come on special teams.

"It's a very intricate part of the game," Abdullah said. "Games are won and lost. Championships are won and lost on special teams. Look at (Adam) Vinatieri's kick last year in the Super Bowl."

Abdullah, who has built a reputation as a kick coverage player, didn't return kicks in Tampa, but in the Bears preseason opener he returned kickoffs of 49, 31 and 30 yards and is averaging 31.75 yards per attempt in the preseason.

"I'm offensively inclined," Abdullah said. "I can do some things with the ball and I'm looking forward to it.

The Bears averaged 20.4 yards per kick return in 2001, which ranked 23rd in the league. Special teams coach Mike Sweatman said the Abdullah began to prove he could return kicks in training camp.

"Rabih is a good runner he follows the blockers well in the offensive scheme," Sweatman said. "(Running back) Coach (Earle) Mosley has been working with him and developing his return skills and we're real happy with the way he's progressing right now."

Behind Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn, Abdullah didn't see the ball a lot in the Bucs offense. In three seasons he touched the ball 38 times (32 rushes, six receptions) and was converted to fullback in 2001.

"Tampa was a different situation with Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn," Abdullah said. "They were in between which one would be the feature back. So, they were in between those two guys a lot and I never really got the opportunity to get out and show what I can do."

Abdullah played running back in college and scored 33 times in three seasons at Lehigh didn't adapt well to the position change.

"I want to do whatever it takes to win, but I don't think my strength is the fullback position.

"I keep getting a feel for it. This is the first time I'm getting (involved in) a lot of competition. Hopefully I can adjust to everything and have a role in the offense."

When asked what his strength is he simply replied, "I just come to play every Sunday."

Head coach Dick Jauron said he is glad not to have to face Abdullah anymore.

"Rabih is really a terrific player. He's no secret obviously. We played against him twice a year, so we're glad he's on our side.

"He's a very tough guy and a very hard nose guy. I think he fits in with our group."

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