Lions announce 15 practice squad signings, QB Steven Montez reportedly will be added
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions announced 15 practice squad signings Wednesday afternoon, while two others were reported by different outlets. All 15 that were announced were previously part of the team's offseason roster, but the pending signing of quarterback Steven Montez, as reported by the NFL Network, carries the most intrigue.
Montez, a former Colorado standout, is entering his second season after spending most of his rookie year on the Washington Football Team's practice squad.
A three-year starter and one of the most prolific passers in Colorado history, Montez threw for 9,710 yards and a school-record 61 touchdowns. He added another 960 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Montez should prove to be a valuable asset on the practice squad because of his rare athleticism. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder was one of the fastest quarterbacks in his draft class, running the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds.
With a number of dual-threat quarterbacks on Detroit's schedule this year, including Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson, Montez is better equipped to replicate their skill sets while running the scout team offense.
The addition of Montez was necessary after backup Tim Boyle suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand in the preseason finale that required surgery.
Below are Detroit's other practice squad additions:
► Linebacker Tavante Beckett
At 5-11 and 220 pounds, Beckett is undersized but has a nose for the ball. He averaged more than 100 tackles his past two seasons at Marshall and tallied six stops, including two on special teams, during the preseason.
► Linebacker Rashod Berry
Berry played tight end at Ohio State but converted to linebacker as a rookie in New England. Signed in the middle of last month, he appeared in the final two preseason games, seeing 42 snaps between defense and special teams.
► Defensive tackle Miles Brown
A 6-2, 320-pound nose tackle, Brown signed with the Lions in early August when the team needed depth. He appeared in all three preseason games, recording 10 tackles and proving to be a stout run defender.
► Safety Jalen Elliott
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame a year ago, Elliott missed a chunk of training camp as a rookie after contracting COVID. He flashed some potential on the practice field and the preseason this year, particularly as a special teams contributor.
► Kicker Zane Gonzalez
The Lions claimed a kicker off waivers on Wednesday, but they will keep Gonzalez around as some insurance, at least for the time being. A late camp addition, he didn't miss a kick during the preseason, but he also didn't attempt anything longer than an extra point. In four pro seasons, he's converted 78% of his field goal attempts with a long of 56.
► Defensive lineman Bruce Hector
Claimed off waivers at the start of camp, the young veteran impressed throughout training camp and the preseason, but he fell victim to the numbers game at a deep position for the Lions. He finished the preseason with 10 tackles, a sack and a batted pass.
► Guard Tommy Kraemer
Undrafted out of Notre Dame, Kraemer was on the field for 131 offensive snaps during the preseason, third to only Matt Nelson and Evan Brown. Kraemer's performance in the preseason finale was noted by coach Dan Campbell in his postgame press conference.
► Tight end Alize Mack
After playing for Campbell in New Orleans as an undrafted rookie, Mack entered the offseason as the presumptive front-runner for Detroit's third tight end job. But his inability to consistently execute his assignments during the preseason led the Lions to keep just two tight ends on the active roster.
► Wide receiver Javon McKinley
Yet another undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame, McKinley flashed some potential in limited preseason action, catching three passes for 50 yards, including a touchdown on a broken play where he found open space in the back of the end zone.
► Running back Dedrick Mills
The 5-11, 220-pound Mills showed promise as a bruising back, rushing for 62 yards on 13 carries in the preseason. Impressively, he also finished second on the team with seven catches, gaining another 52 yards. His best play was a fourth-down conversion where he made one tackler miss in the backfield and another in the second level, gaining 20 yards on the play.
► Offensive tackle Darrin Paulo
Paulo struggled during the preseason and was the team's lowest-graded offensive player, according to Pro Football Focus, after allowing two sacks, two quarterback hits and two additional hurries. Still, the Lions must see promise in the 6-5, 317-pounder.
► Running back Craig Reynolds
The man position coach Duce Staley dubbed "Netflix" because he was presumably on the couch binge watching shows when the Lions called him for a workout the day before the team's first preseason game. Still, it didn't take long for Reynolds to make an impact, rushing for a team-high 87 yards and scoring twice in the three preseason games.
► Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman
The Lions opted for youth at corner on the 53-man roster, but Robey-Coleman provides some insurance as a veteran exemption on the practice squad. With eight years of experience, including an excellent three-year stretch with the Los Angeles Rams under the tutelage of Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, Robey-Coleman will continue to be a valuable resource for the team’s young secondary.
► Wide receiver Sage Surratt
One of Detroit's top UDFA targets, the big-framed pass-catcher had a relatively quiet training camp and failed to record a reception in the preseason. Surratt opted out of the 2020 season at Wake Forest after catching 66 balls for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019.
► Tight end Brock Wright
You're not going to believe this, but it's another Notre Dame product. Wright wasn't much of a pass-catching threat for the Irish, but showed above-average athleticism during his first offseason, quickly closing the gap and arguably passing Mack by the end of training camp.
► Tight end Shane Zylstra
The Lions didn't announce the addition of Zylstra, but his agent Mike McCarthy did via Twitter. It's likely a matter of getting a physical. The converted wide receiver posted huge numbers during his college career at Minnesota State. Listed at 6-4 and 237 pounds, the Division II All-American racked up 227 catches for 4,297 yards and 54 touchdowns across four seasons.