Competition heating up for last receiver spots

Posted Aug 1, 2014

The Lions have a number of veteran and young wide receivers vying for the one or two last spots on the 53-man roster.

The Detroit Lions are expecting a lot out of receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate this season.

They also expect receiver Jeremy Ross to be a big factor in their return game. If Ross can double up and make some plays on offense, too, then that’s an added bonus.

Beyond those three the Lions have a number of veterans and young players vying for the one or two spots on the 53-man roster, depending on how the final numbers play out.

Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree, Kris Durham and Patrick Edwards all have NFL game experience. Corey Fuller, who the team drafted as a project in the sixth round last year, has taken some big steps since last year and is trying to throw his hat into the mix.

“Any time that you have a number of guys that can play a position, and play it well, it bodes well for your team,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of the competition at receiver.

“You know that you’re going to have a good quality starter and then you know you’re going to have some depth as well. We have a number of guys out there battling and playing pretty well and coming along, especially some of the younger guys.”

Fuller has become more and more part of this discussion over the last week. He’s made a number of fine plays throughout the early portion of training camp, including a catch Friday on a deep ball from Dan Orlovsky down the sideline in a two-minute drill that led to a Ross touchdown catch the next play.

“He’s been making some plays,” Caldwell said of Fuller. “I think you can see out here he’s been catching the ball well. Oftentimes, that’s what maturity does for you. He’s been in the league for a short period of time but he’s gotten better than he was last year and we’ll anticipate that he’ll continue to improve.”

Fuller spent last season on the practice squad as he learned to make the transition from a track star to an NFL receiver.

“Well of course stretch the field,” Fuller said of what he brings to the table in this competition.

Every one of these receivers in the mix for a roster spot brings a little something different and they say the competition is making them all better.

“It’s a friendly competition,” said Durham, who caught 38 passes for 490 yards and a couple scores for the Lions last year.

“Competition brings out the best in everyone. Everyone is encouraging. Everyone is making plays. I think it’s bringing out the best in each individual receiver and that’s going to make the team better.

Broyles, the all-time NCAA leader in receptions, is a savvy route runner, but he has to prove the explosion is still there after three major leg injuries.

Ogletree, who’s been getting the most work with the No. 1 offense in three-receiver sets in camp, has good size at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds and terrific speed and quickness, to add a different dynamic to the slot.

Kevin OgletreeWR Kevin Ogletree (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“Quick, resourceful, really has a good understanding of the positions,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Ogletree.

“Works at it, quiet, hardly says a word, but I really like what we’ve seen from him so far. He has been catching the ball consistently. We anticipate that that’s going to carry over. He’s got some unusual traits on the inside.”

Ogletree played in 12 games for Detroit last year and had 13 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.

"A competitive edge and that will to win and to be a team player,” Ogletree said when asked what he brings to the table.

“The competitiveness is just wanting to be a part of something special. I want to be a part of this group. I want to help our team win. The way I can do that is coming out here every day and putting my best foot forward.”

One or two players will naturally begin to separate themselves from the group when preseason games begin, but for now, it seems like a pretty tight race.