COMMENTARY | Signing Montell Owens is a smart move by the Detroit Lions because he adds depth and experience in multiple areas. Owens is not a one-trick pony that can only contribute on the occasional running play. He is someone that can be an integral part of special teams play and be counted on to gain positive yardage when inserted into the backfield.
Is Owens going to compete with Mikel LeShoure and Reggie Bush for precious playing time? Probably not, but he is a great safety valve to have. LeShoure has battled injuries since being drafted and the Lions have been caught with few options on the depth chart in the past. Joique Bell is also going to be in the mix for carries, but Owens can play more of a fullback role when required.
While not exactly a household name, Owens has put together an impressive resume during his seven-year career. He has been solely a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars up to this point, gaining 292 yards and three touchdowns on the ground since 2008.
Those numbers may not seem all that impressive, however, what matters is how he performed in relief of Maurice Jones-Drew last season. Once the Jaguars superstar rusher went down with injury, Owens rose to the occasion, starting four games and rushing for 209 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries.
He stepped up when Jacksonville desperately needed him. This is a great sign to see out of a player that is far from a marquee name. It might then seem surprising that the Jaguars were wiling to part ways with Owens. However, there has been a ton of turnover with that Jaguars organization in recent years, a fact that Owens himself highlighted when discussing his exit from the franchise, per The Sports Network:
"The past seven years in Jacksonville, we've had three new head coaches, we've had three general managers and two different owners since I've been there," said Owens. "There was always a lot of turnover. A great organization, but there was always a new vision."
Owens has a strong, 5'10", 225-pound frame and knows how to get up the field quickly. He is not someone who is going to shy away from contact or constantly try to get to the sideline.
Owens couples that rushing ability with underrated pass-catching skills. He had 12 catches for 132 yards during that four-game stretch. What this amounts to is the fact that Owens can do a little bit of everything. He is never going to be a full-time starting tailback at the NFL level, but he is rarely going to make the type of mistakes that cost a team games.
He is also a two-time Pro Bowler because of his work on special teams. Detroit has struggled in that regard in recent years and sees where Owens can make an immediate impact. He is a form tackler in coverage, with a good motor and sound fundamentals.
The Lions have clearly already made their major splash this offseason by bringing in Bush when the free agency period opened in March, but it is the role players like Owens that can often prove to be most important. Detroit has just added a valuable piece to its potential playoff puzzle.
Nick Kostora lives in Michigan and has covered the Detroit Lions for 4 years. His work has appeared on CNN, Bleacher Report and more.
You can follow Nick on Twitter @nickkostora
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Montell Owens
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Reggie Bush