Allen Park — The Detroit Lions are parting ways with Ameer Abdullah. The former second-round pick is being waived to make room for wide receiver Bruce Ellington.
The team also re-signed running back Zach Zenner.
Ellington, a fourth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2014, worked out with the Lions earlier this week. He’s spent time on three rosters, most recently with the Houston Texans.
The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder posted some of the best 20- and 60-yard shuttle times at the scouting combine in 2014 and will give the Lions some much-needed shiftiness after the team traded Golden Tate to the Eagles last week.
Ellington caught eight passes in three games for the Texans this season before he was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He has the ability to play both outside and in the slot, recording 56 catches for 637 yards and five touchdowns during his four-year career.
Zenner returns to the Lions nearly two months after he was waived off injured reserve (back). Undrafted out of South Dakota State in 2015, he's spent his entire professional career with the Lions. He tallied 627 yards from scrimmage during that stretch and plays a variety of roles on special teams.
As for Abdullah, his role in Detroit’s running game vanished after the team drafted Kerryon Johnson this offseason.
Abdullah had once been Detroit’s best hope for a sustainable rushing attack, treating fans to a 24-yard touchdown romp on his first career carry. He was also one of the NFL’s best return men his first season, but left lingering doubts because of ball security issues. He fumbled five times that year.
He entered 2016 with promise, but his year was quickly derailed by a season-ending broken foot, suffered in Week 2. He returned in 2017, but struggled behind a porous offensive line, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Abdullah was a healthy scratch for the first several games this season, but appeared to be part of the solution in the return game following All-Pro Jamal Agnew's season-ending ACL tear. But after Abdullah lost a fumble returning a kickoff against Seattle a week ago, the team turned to undrafted rookie Brandon Powell, once again scratching Abdullah against Minnesota.
Abdullah finishes his disappointing run in Detroit having appeared in 35 games. He rushed for 1,251 yards on 327 carries (3.8 YPC), while catching 57 passes for another 420 yards.