Why Jared Abbrederis' choice to wait is paying off now with Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jared Abbrederis had decisions to make. He had lost his job as a receiver with the Green Bay Packers weeks earlier after a thigh injury that wouldn’t go away forced the only franchise he played for in the NFL to release him.

Other teams were interested once he got past the injury-settlement period. They reached out. Abbrederis said no. He wanted to wait. He knew it was a risk. But he wanted to wager on himself and his long-term future instead of take a short-term paycheck.

He debated the possibility of being forgotten by not being active with putting himself in a better position. Waiting it out became his choice.

“I was confident in myself and my decision,” Abbrederis said. “That was kind of what I talked to my agent about. I said I’m confident in what I’m doing. I’m investing in my future, obviously training and getting myself ready so hopefully the injury bug will stay away.

“I told him I would be confident in my decision, so that was the biggest thing I had to do. Obviously, if I wouldn’t have gotten a call, that would have been on me. But I took the risk of making sure I was developing and ready to go.”

The decision might end up being more than worth it. Abbrederis signed with the Detroit Lions on a futures deal days after the franchise lost to Seattle in the playoffs last postseason. In Detroit, he saw a place that was familiar and one where there could be a potential path to a roster spot.

The Lions had two locked-in receivers in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate. Other than that, there was going to be a competition, and, therefore, a chance. He had months to learn Detroit’s system before having to report for offseason workouts in April. He would be part of the team’s offseason program.

He could take the time to study and put himself in the best possible position instead of jumping in on the fly -- like he could have late last season with some teams.

“I just wanted to wait until the season was over because it would give me an opportunity to learn a playbook in the offseason, when it’s a little bit less, not that you’re going in a game right away,” Abbrederis said. “So I just figured that would give me the best opportunity. Then, I would get fully healthy, develop a little bit, get myself ready to go.”

Abbrederis has received a lot of attention during the past month. He has continually made plays during the franchise’s three weeks of organized team activities and has another shot during this week’s three-day mandatory minicamp, setting up a tough training-camp competition. During the practices open to the media, Abbrederis grabbed at least one deep ball per practice, either jumping and adjusting to make a catch against good coverage or beating defensive backs down the field for big catches.

He’s also in the middle of the returner battle with fellow receivers TJ Jones and Jace Billingsley -- part of an overall competition with a handful of receivers for one or two roster spots.

“Been a nice spring for Abbrederis,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “He runs routes the way that 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 is able to deliver him an accurate ball and it’s not something that 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 ultimately get open and catch the ball.”

That’s something he learned, in part, from the Super Bowl quarterbacks he has played with. He played one year at Wisconsin with Russell Wilson, where he had 55 catches for 933 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore in 2011.

Then, the Wisconsin native was drafted in the fifth round by the team he grew up rooting for, the Packers. He dealt with injuries throughout his time in Green Bay -- a torn right ACL in 2014, his rookie year, followed by a concussion and rib injury in 2015 and the thigh injury last season that ended up leading to his release. Injuries limited him to 10 regular-season catches for 119 yards in 15 games and six catches for 69 yards in two playoff games.

Even though he was often hurt, being around the Packers meant picking up things from Aaron Rodgers. He added an extra level of competitiveness and detail -- down to the nuances of every play.

“I learned a lot there, helped me develop a lot of stuff,” Abbrederis said. “Aaron helped build me into a receiver, knowing offenses and trying to be in the right place at the right time. I learned a lot there.

“Obviously, had some injuries that kept me out, and they have a lot of guys there, too. It’s obviously frustrating not to be able to play as much. I was blessed to be there for three years, learned a lot there and excited to bring it here.”

So far, his decision has worked. It has put Abbrederis in a position in which he’ll be a factor for a Lions roster spot.