Rogers and Wojo break down Detroit's decision to trade Golden Tate and the team's upcoming matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Allen Park — Kelvin Sheppard claims teams have been calling during the season, but the veteran linebacker was waiting for the right opportunity. He worked out for just one team, the Detroit Lions back in July, and he had faith they’d eventually call him back.
It wasn’t an easy wait, three months, but the Lions finally did call, signing Sheppard on Wednesday to fill the vacant roster spot created when the team traded wide receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles this week.
“Me and my agent thought some of the other spots just weren’t for me. And I had faith I would actually be here” Sheppard said. "(I was looking for) the right fit for me and not just going somewhere. Having a purpose for why I’m going somewhere."
Although the defensive schemes are entirely different, Sheppard is the fourth defensive player from the 2017 New York Giants to make his way to Detroit this season. He joins free-agent signing Devon Kennard, waiver claim Romeo Okwara and trade acquisition Damon Harrison.
Sheppard has also played with Lions defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, both in college and earlier in their pro careers, and linebacker Christian Jones in Chicago last preseason.
“It’s a little crazy, weird, but I’m a firm believer everything happens for a reason,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard said he called Jean Francois and Kennard before flying up to Detroit, while Kennard and Jarrad Davis have been helpful catching him up on the defense.
"This is my first year really coming into a new situation, a new playbook, new everything," Sheppard said. "But I have a great group of guys, great coaching staff, and they’re getting me caught up as quickly as they can."
A versatile defender, who has played inside and outside in a variety of schemes, as well as contributed on special teams everywhere he’s been, Sheppard is eager to contribute to the Lions in any way he can.
“I’m really just here to do whatever Coach asks me to and do it to the best of my ability,” he said.
His former teammates from New York have thrived with the Lions. Kennard already has a career-high five sacks this season, while Okwara has done a nice job filling in for Ziggy Ansah at defensive end, matching Kennard’s sack total. Harrison has been here just a week, but was a bright spot in last week’s loss to Seattle.
You’d think that would be added reason for optimism for Sheppard, but he doesn’t see it that way.
“I can’t look at anybody else’s situation and try to compare it to myself,” Sheppard said. “I never try to do that. Everybody has their own different journey, own different path and I’m just trying to take it one day at a time, just trying to retain as much information as I can.”
But one of the allures of playing for the Lions is coach Matt Patricia.
“I’ve always admired Coach Patricia, for one. I’ve known a countless amount of guys that have been under his system, that have learned under him, his stewardship, his knowledge of the game. I don’t have to speak about it.”
Sheppard has appeared in 100 games during his career, starting 63. He’s recorded 424 tackles.