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Cephus embracing WR competition, making plays in practice

It was nearly an impossible scenario Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell put his second-team offense in during Tuesday's first minicamp practice. They had the ball on their own 19-yard line with just 29 seconds on the clock and no timeouts remaining.

Quarterback David Blough found wide receiver Trinity Benson for 25 yards and out of bounds to start the series, and then hit wide receiver Quintez Cephus on back-to-back plays. The first was for 32 yards where Cephus went up over two defenders and brought it down. The second was a one-handed 23-yard touchdown to win the drill for the offense.

The thing about those two plays with Cephus is they aren't the only ones he's made through two open OTA practices and two minicamp practices so far.

"He doing what we asked him to do and, last year kind of like put him in a competitive environment. All of sudden, he shows up and, that's when you really feel him, and yesterday we get one of those competitive environments and who showed up again," Campbell said Wednesday of Cephus.

"So we don't ignore those things. I don't ignore them you know, so it was good to see out of him. We thought, he did well. He just he shows up. He shows up in these competitive settings that's a good thing."

A fifth-round pick by the Lions in 2020, Cephus played in 13 games (two starts) as a rookie and finished the year with 20 receptions for 349 yards and a couple scores as mostly a reserve, averaging 17.5 yards per reception.

He entered last season with a lot of confidence after a solid rookie campaign and more opportunities to play early due to injuries. He was off to a good start with 15 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns in four and a half games before suffering a season-ending collar bone injury.

"It sucked, honestly, not being able to be out here and do what I love to do," Cephus said Wednesday of the injury last year. "Got off to a great start and just wanted to take advantage of my opportunities and it ended shorter than I wanted it to."

The Lions did a lot of work this offseason to revamp the depth and talent in their wide receiver room, signing veteran DJ Chark in free agency and moving up 20 spots in the first round from No. 32 to No. 12 to draft arguably the top receiver – Alabama's Jameson Williams.

By also re-signing veterans Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond, the Lions now have deep receiver room, which means a player like Cephus is battling for both a roster spot and playing time.

The Lions have receivers with varying skill sets who bring a lot to the table. It's a competitive room, and Cephus said he wouldn't want it any other way because that competition will bring out the best in everyone. Cephus' toughness and his ability to make catches in traffic are two things he brings to the table.

With the competition expected to be tight, Cephus said it's all about making plays on the practice field and in the preseason.

"We all watch the film," he said. "We all come out here wanting to compete and wanting to show up on the film when we go back in the meeting room. We come out here to make plays and compete with each other."

It remains to be seen whether Williams, who is rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in the National Championship Game, will be ready for training camp or the start of the regular season. That could open up a roster spot at receiver at least early on. But when Williams does return, it will be a crowded receiver room, and the guys who consistently make the most plays will find themselves with a role.

Cephus is trying to make sure that includes him.

"When we line up in front of somebody, he's trying to make a name for himself and I'm trying to make a name for mine," Cephus said. "That's the greatest opportunity you get to prove yourself when you line up and compete with someone else."

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