Montell Owens signing was perfect timing for the Lions

Posted Jun 30, 2013

The Lions were able to replace one former Pro Bowler cover specialist with another when Owens became available during free agency

When the negotiations on a new contract with free agent receiver/special team ace Kassim Osgood and the Detroit Lions broke off this offseason, the Lions were left with a decent-sized hole in their special teams cover units.

Montell OwensRB Montell Owens (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Osgood, a three-time Pro Bowler as a cover specialist, was one of the better performers on special teams for the Lions last season.

It left the Lions looking to fill that role, and as luck would have it, they were able to replace one former Pro Bowler with another, when Montell Owens became available and signed with the Lions.

"It's a guy that we wanted to move pretty quickly on when he was let go by the Jaguars," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said.

"It's another guy that has experience at running back. He's played a little bit of fullback and is a quality special teams player."

Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego coached Owens last season in Jacksonville and made a big pitch for the seven-year veteran to come to Detroit.

"I have so much respect for Montell, not just as a player, but as a man and as a professional," Bonamego said.

"He's a great guy to have in the locker room. He takes his job very seriously. Once these guys start to learn more about him and what he's about he'll come to the forefront as one of the leaders on the field."

Owens was voted to two Pro Bowls in 2010 and 2011 and left Jacksonville as the franchise leader in special teams tackles (118).

"When you talk about Kassim Osgood and Montell Owens, and I think you have to throw John Wendling into that mix, when you have to play against them, they require a lot of attention," said Bonamego, who's entering his 15th season as a special teams coach in the NFL.

"You better know where they're at because they're game-wrecker type of players. You're going to have to have a plan of how you're going to handle them.

"This may not be the best analogy, but it's kind of like having Calvin Johnson on offense. The guy is such a great player that he forces you to do things defensively to account for him and those types of players do that on special teams.

"They make the other guys around them better because you can't double team everybody."

The one added plus Owens has over a player like Osgood is that he can contribute more on offense.

The Lions will have a number of tough choices to make when it comes time to whittle the roster down from 90 to 75 and eventually 53. Players who can contribute on special teams -- as well as offense or defense -- have a much better opportunity to earn a job and contribute and make the Lions better in 2013.

"Montell has value as a running back," Bonamego said. "He has stepped in when needed and done well in Jacksonville."

Owens proved last year he can contribute as a runner last season. He made four starts for the Jaguars and carried the ball 42 times for 209 yards (5.0 average) with a touchdown.

With a new special teams coordinator implementing a new scheme in Detroit, Owens' arrival was perfect timing for the Lions.