The Detroit Lions have filled their open roster spot with veteran running back/fullback Montell Owens. The Lions signed him on Thursday afternoon, according to Tim Twentyman, giving them 90 players and an eighth back on the roster.
Owens entered the NFL in 2006 as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He spent seven seasons with the Jaguars, but he was released by them a couple weeks ago.
As a running back, Owens' best season was in 2012. He had 42 carries for 209 yards and 1 TD, and he also added 8 catches for 113 yards last season. Those were career-high numbers in every category except touchdowns. He became more involved in the Jaguars' offense last season as a running back, and his numbers went up as a result.
In all likelihood, the main reason the Lions decided to sign Owens is for his play on special teams. He actually made the Pro Bowl in both 2010 and 2011 for his play on special teams. In the 2011 Pro Bowl, Owens recovered a Devin Hester fumble and returned it for a touchdown on a kick return, and he also caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Matt Cassel.
Assuming Owens primarily plays special teams but also gets some work on offense at running back or fullback, is there even room for him on the 53-man roster? Reggie Bush, Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell account for three roster spots in the backfield, and the Lions also have Theo Riddick, Steven Miller and Shaun Chapas trying to make the team. (Jahvid Best is also on the roster but will likely be on the PUP list again.) If the Lions decide to keep one of Riddick and Miller, would there be room for a fifth back whose main contributions would be on special teams? I suppose that is something that will be decided in training camp and the preseason.