Monday marked the two-thirds point for Husain Abdullah's daytime fast during the month of Ramadan and he knows the exact days left.
"This year has been great with all the help from everybody and support from everybody. There's been a lot. I feel a lot better about it," Abdullah said Monday. "Last year I was keeping it to myself, but today is Day 20, 10 days left. I'm almost done."
As part of his Muslim faith, Abdullah is following the fasting principles of no water and no food during the daylight hours. This year, he caught a bit of a break because Ramadan didn't start until the very end of two-a-day practices in Mankato, which are the most taxing on a player's body.
Another benefit this time around is that the Vikings safety decided to engage the help of the team instead of trying to hide his fast from them.
"I think we have our arms around it now and know when he is going to wake up and when he is going to eat and what we can pack on him before the sun comes up. Last year he was shouldering it all by himself," head coach Brad Childress said at training camp.
The Vikings helped formulate a plan that would help Abdullah maintain his daytime fast and still maintain an energy level that would allow him to play without feeling the effects of it too much.
"(Ramadan) doesn't occur the same time every year. Last year it occurred in early September and we saw a dip in his performance. We said, ‘What's wrong with Husain Abdullah? It doesn't seem like he has enough spunk?'" Childress said earlier this month. "That is something he has observed since he was 11 years old and it lasts 30 days and obviously it has a chance to be detrimental to him."
Abdullah doesn't feel the fast has had as much of an impact on his body this year. The changes in his diet – with more calorie intake during the hours when the sun is down has helped.
"The diet has helped me a lot. I've been consistently around 199, 200 (pounds)," he said. "Normally I'm about 202, so not a big dropoff there. My energy has been near last year. It kind of tailed a little bit, but so far this year it's been good."
He added more calories to his diet this year and said the addition of a protein shake has helped tremendously. It has also helped that he has the support of his coaches.
"It's important to him and his faith. It's something that he goes through every year. We have a plan in place. I know he is going to make every effort," special teams coordinator Brian Murphy said earlier this month. "This team and his job is extremely important to him. You can only imagine how hard that is to perform at this level, with those circumstances. We have a plan in place, he feels confident with it and I think our people feel confident with it. It's important to him. Like everything else, if it's important to you, you will find a way to make it work to your benefit."
Abdullah made no bones for his latest performance Saturday night, when he was the victim of a 42-yard pass to Seahawks receiver Mike Williams. Abdullah didn't use his fast an excuse.
"There were two plays I'm not too excite about – one down the sideline and one down the seam on the backside in which I could have been more of a factor, but for the most part I think I did OK," he said.
"Whenever it's Cover-2, at least the way I look at it, when they throw it deep half, that's my responsibility. I've got to take that."
Abdullah still appears to be solidly in the mix for a roster spot this year as a backup safety and special-teams coverage leader, and if he can make it through Saturday's required roster cutdown to 53 players, he'll be emerging from his fast right as the Vikings start the regular season in New Orleans.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Abdullah's fast nearing the end
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