After trading Golden Tate, the Detroit Lions signed a veteran receiver and jettisoned another former offensive centerpiece.
The Lions signed former Houston Texans receiver Bruce Ellington and brought back running back Zach Zenner on Tuesday, the team announced. To make room on the roster, Detroit waived running back Ameer Abdullah.
Abdullah, a former second-round pick, was banished deep down the Lions’ depth chart. The additions of stud rookie Kerryon Johnson and aging sledgehammer LeGarrette Blount to pair with pass-catching back Theo Riddick made Abdullah superfluous in Detroit.
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Abdullah has been active for just three games and earned one carry for one yard and two receptions for 18 yards. His most notable play of the season was a negative one. He fumbled a kickoff in the Lions’ 28-14 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks two weeks ago. Abdullah was inactive on Sunday.
The 25-year-old former Nebraska Cornhusker showed burst and speed on the edge as a rookie, compiling 597 yards on 4.2 yards per carry in nine starts. Injuries all but wiped out his second season. The 2017 campaign was a cluster of inconsistency as he earned a middling 3.3 yards per tote. The Lions had the infamous streak of sub-100-yard rushing games with Abdullah on the roster — a streak Johnson broke this season.
Despite the struggles, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a team in need of a running back gave a shot to a speedy potential dual-threat back with experience. The Lions had some trade talks before the deadline, per Rapoport, but nothing came to fruition.
Adding Ellington to the roster provides a slot receiver to help make try to up for the trade of Tate. The 27-year-old played 66 percent of his snaps from the slot with the Houston Texans last year and again in three games this season, per Next Gen Stats. Ellington can be a reliable possession receiver when healthy, but no one would confuse him for Tate in terms of YAC ability.
The addition likely indicates the Lions weren’t thrilled with the prospect of T.J. Jones getting more playing time behind Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay in three-receiver sets.
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