Detroit Lions find 'a freak' in WR Kenny Golladay

By The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 9, 2017 at 10:59 AM
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- No one has had a more impressive start to Lions training camp than Kenny Golladay.

A third-round pick out of Northern Illinois, Golladay has opened the eyes of teammates, coaches and even former NFL star Chad Johnson with his play.

Johnson, who took in a practice last week, tweeted praise for Golladay after watching him outplay more veteran cornerbacks with his size and speed, and Golladay said the two got together after practice, when Johnson told him that: "I just have a bright future and just keep working hard."

Added running back Ameer Abdullah: "He's a freak. Tall guy, can jump, can run. He can do everything. He's the modern day freak of nature athlete that you've got."

At 6-feet-4 and 213 pounds, Golladay is the Lions' most physically gifted wide receiver, but that doesn't mean he'll play a huge part in the offense this fall.

Golden Tate and Marvin Jones sit inarguably atop the depth chart, and the Lions are expected to use more two tight end sets this year with Eric Ebron and Darren Fells.

TJ Jones has continued to play ahead of Golladay in three-receiver sets this summer, but Golladay should at least start the season with a specific role as a red-zone and deep threat.

Golladay shined in goal-line situations in practice, where he uses his big body to outmaneuver cornerbacks, and he's a more polished route runner than expected coming from a small school (he transferred to NIU from North Dakota).

Golladay, for his part, has admitted that he's still very much in the learning stages of being an NFL wide receiver, and Lions coach Jim Caldwell said joint practices this week against the Indianapolis Colts and Sunday's exhibition opener will tell a lot about how ready he is to contribute as a rookie.

"He can run," Caldwell said. "You can't coach height. He has height and length. "And not only that, he has a really, really good work ethic. I think when you put those things together it makes for a pretty dynamic player once he gets there.

"Now, he's got a ways to go yet. Obviously, these next practices coming up in Indy, then also obviously the preseason game are going to tell us quite a bit about him and we'll see him continue to develop."

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Guard T.J. Lang has missed half of the Lions' first eight practices as he continues his return from January hip surgery, but the Lions insist they're not worried about the chemistry up front between him and new right tackle Rick Wagner.

"We've had time with walk-throughs and stuff," Wagner said. "Obviously, I sit right next to him in meetings so we're kind of going through the plays mentally. If we're not out there together, we're definitely mentally in the meeting room together, so we'll get plenty of opportunity to get our time on the field together."

The Lions splurged in free agency on Lang and Wagner in an effort to upgrade the right side of their offensive line. Lang was a Pro Bowler for the Green Bay Packers last year, while Wagner is considered one of the best pass-protecting right tackles in football.

Wagner has looked as good as advertised in camp so far, while Lang, who sat out all spring, has practiced just twice in full pads.

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Running back Ameer Abdullah said he expects to play in Sunday's preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts a little more than 10 months removed from Lisfranc surgery.

Abdullah, who injured his left foot in Week 2 last season, has been a full participant in Lions camp to this point, save for one veteran day of rest at the end of the first week.

"I don't really think about it anymore," Abdullah said. "I'm out there competing at a high level, back to my old self and I'm happy with the progression I've made."

Backup Theo Riddick, meanwhile, remains in a red no-contact jersey and will be limited in joint practices this week against the Colts.

NOTES: DE Armonty Bryant was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Monday, along with guard Brandon Thomas. Bryant, who's returning from a December knee injury, is expected to play a role as a rotational pass rusher this fall after he serves a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on substances of abuse. ... CB Tramain Jacobs and WR Dez Stewart signed with the Lions on Tuesday. The Lions waived-injured CB Des Lawrence and WR Ryan Spadola to make room on their 90-man roster. ... TE Eric Ebron is nearing a return from a hamstring injury he sustained in the first practice of the summer. Ebron recently resumed running on the side with trainers. He has never played a full 16 games in a season. ... DE Anthony Zettel has taken the bulk of the first-team reps at right defensive end with Ziggy Ansah on the PUP list. Zettel played sparingly as a rookie last year, recording one sack in 13 games, but he's been one of the surprises of camp so far.

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