Abdul Deji Karim had waited a long time to make his National Football League debut. A thumb injury had cut short his preseason and delayed his regular season arrival. But arrive he did, with a total of 215 all-purpose yards in the Jacksonville Jaguarsâ€™ 36-26 win over the Buffalo Bills yesterday. Karim returned kicks and ran the ball from scrimmage as part of an explosive debut.
Karim reported being nervous the Saturday night before the game. But you wouldnâ€™t have known it by watching him on the field. The rookie from Southern Illinois University tallied 70 yards running the ball and a whopping 145 yards on kick returns, including a 51-yarder to start the second half. Thatâ€™s a long way from being a sixth round draft pick this past April. Karim got the opportunity to run the ball from scrimmage due to an injury to the other back-up running back Rashad Jennings.
â€œFeels great; thereâ€™s no other words for it,â€ Karim told the Florida Times-Union. â€œFirst NFL game, I was ready to go out there and just do something. Just to help my team. Itâ€™s a great feeling to get a W out of it as well.â€
â€œHe showed he has the ability to break the long one,â€ Jaguars fullback Greg Jones told the Florida Times-Union. â€œI think he opened a lot of peopleâ€™s eyes, outside observers. Heâ€™s growing, heâ€™s still a young player, he still has a lot of room to grow.â€
â€œJust trying to give my team a spark, give them some good field positions as well as everybody else on special teams out there busting their butt,â€ Karim said. â€œWe just want to get the offense to start out in a good spot and the rest is history. Thatâ€™s what went through my mind.â€
Karim injured his left thumb in the Jaguarsâ€™ second preseason game and was in surgery two days later. He had to wear a cast for the rest of the preseason. A cast that finally came off in the past couple of weeks. There had been reports of Karimâ€™s explosiveness in mini-camp and then training camp, and the Buffalo Bills got to see first hand that those reports were indeed true. Even Jaguars star running back Maurice Jones-Drew has taken notice of Karimâ€™s talent.
â€œI donâ€™t think I said too much to him,â€ Jones-Drew said, smiling. â€œI might have told him to slow down, they might pull me out for good. â€œWe talked a bunch during practice. I told him you gotta play this game like itâ€™s high school. … He was doing it, he was playing well. He was reading his blocks, being decisive, making a lot of cuts.â€
So after missing much of the preseason as well as the first four games of the regular season, Deji Karim made a big splash in his NFL debut. We look for continued success, inshallah, from the upstart running back.