The Detroit Lions haven't hesitated to bring in players whose main or only contributions are on special teams. I'm not talking about specialists like kickers, punters and long snappers, either. Guys who "play" wide receiver, linebacker and safety, among other positions, have joined the Lions in the past in order to be a force on their coverage units. Linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba, wide receiver Kassim Osgood and safety John Wendling (who is still on the team) are just some of the guys who have joined the Lions primarily to help on special teams.
Running back Montell Owens became the latest player to sign on for this role when he joined the team at the end of May. He is a two-time Pro Bowler for his play on special teams, and he will be expected to be a big-time contributor on the Lions coverage units this season.
The nice thing about Owens is that his value isn't limited to special teams. He can also play running back and fullback, and Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego, who knows him well from their time together in Jacksonville, thinks Owens can bring something to the table on offense in Detroit. From the Lions' official site:
"Montell has value as a running back," Bonamego said. "He has stepped in when needed and done well in Jacksonville."
Owens rushed for 209 yards on 42 carries last season in Jacksonville. He also caught 8 passes for 113 yards. The hope for the Lions is that he won't really be needed to carry or catch the ball very often, but perhaps he could be of use in certain situations (possibly as a fullback). More than anything, if injuries become an issue at running back, I suppose it's nice to have an experienced backup like Owens around since you know he will be active on game day because of his special teams duties.