Allen Park — The competition for the Detroit Lions’ fourth, and potentially fifth, wide receiver jobs figures to be among the most compelling of the offseason.
The leading candidates, by virtue of their experience in the scheme, are TJ Jones and Jace Billingsley. But with a string of strong OTA practices, another veteran is making certain he’ll be part of the conversation.
Meet Jared Abbrederis.
If you’re a fan of Michigan or Michigan State’s football program, Abbrederis probably rings a bell. He had a highly productive, four-year run at Wisconsin before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2014.
The Lions added him to the roster in January, and in a short amount of time with his new team he’s made a strong impression with the coaching staff.
“Yeah, been a nice spring for Abbrederis,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “I think he runs routes the way you kind of want him to as a coordinator. He really talks to the quarterback with his body language. He gets open in a way that the quarterback’s able to deliver him an accurate ball. It’s not something you can take for granted at this level. He kind of understands what the quarterback sees and how he can use that to his advantage to get open and ultimately catch the ball.”
Abbrederis has caught pretty much everything thrown his direction during the three practices open to the media, showing little trouble getting separation against the team’s second- and third-string defensive backs. On Tuesday, he flashed some ability to stretch the field vertically, snagging a deep pass in stride for a long touchdown.
“The guy’s a really good route runner, very, very good just in terms of his ability to find open areas,” coach Jim Caldwell said last week. “He has good spatial awareness. You complement all those things that he can do from an offensive standpoint with his ability to play special teams as well.”
Special teams is almost certain to play a factor when the Lions do trim down their roster to 53. Like Jones and Billingsley, Abbrederis will have an opportunity make an impression as a return man. He hasn’t done it much in the pros, but was part of his resume coming out of college and something he’s been working on with the Lions.