A lot of players set out personal and team goals before every NFL season begins.
While the team goals haven't panned out for Lions second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay, he's far exceeded his personal goals coming into the year 14 games into this season. He's coming off a seven-catch, 146-yard performance in Sunday's 14-13 loss to Buffalo that was a career high in yards. He said this week the performance helped him reach some personal goals, though he also credited Detroit's thinned-out cast at receiver for playing a role in helping him get there.
"Well of course I wasn't expecting to be by myself, so that plays a factor in it," Golladay said. "You got to think, I was with two other guys. One guy left (Golden Tate via trade) and now there's just two of us, and then he (Marvin Jones Jr.) gets injured and now it's just me. So it's different.
"So the goals I did set, I kind of blew those out the water, which is good. Like I just said, it just gives these coaches an opportunity to see what I can do by myself with not the help of other guys around me."
Golladay leads the team with 64 receptions for 1,005 yards and five touchdowns. He was part of a terrific trio to start the season, but roster moves and injuries have left Golladay as the No. 1 wide receiver in Detroit. He's received the bulk of the targets since Jones went down with a knee injury in early November. He's had to deal with more attention from opposing defenses as a result, and his ability to continue to make plays is a good sign for the Lions' offense moving forward.
"Kenny's a young player that's really coming along," Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said Tuesday. "He's getting better each week. Sometimes, when you get a lot of targets, which Kenny has had the last month or whatever that range is, you start to get more attention from a defense. That could be coverage type, that could be two defenders finding their way near you a little more often than other times, or maybe a certain corner that's a really good player finding his way to cover you more often.
"Kenny's been competing and battling. We're seeing those strides. I'm looking forward to watching him continue that growth, because I do believe he's going to continue to get better."
Golladay has excelled this year at winning 50-50 balls and making contested catches. He's got strong hands and a big frame, and there have been a number of instances where he takes the ball away from a defender because he's bigger and stronger.
Cooter also noted that quarterback Matthew Stafford has a lot of confidence right now that when he throws the ball Golladay's way, he'll make a play for him. It's that kind of trust that can propel a receiver to No. 1 status in an offense.
"You know, with those guys – with Marv being out – it was just more for me to just prove to these coaches I am able to produce without those guys being the main focus on the defense, with me being pretty much the No. 1," Golladay said.
Golladay doesn't lack any confidence in his own ability, and that's likely strengthened over the last month and a half.
"I definitely think up there with some of the good receivers, I just have to continue to keep working," he said. "I'm still young. This is my second year. I definitely feel like I'm able and capable of doing what all those (top-10 receivers in the league) are doing."