The Detroit Lions return all three of their leading veteran wide receivers from a year ago – Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola – and they have a nice mix of veterans and young guys behind them that bring a unique skill set to the table too.
Among that second wave of receivers is rookie fifth-round pick Quintez Cephus out of Wisconsin. The rookie has stood out over the first two weeks of padded training camp practices for his route running and ability to get open. Cephus couldn't have come into a better situation in Detroit with Golladay, Jones and Amendola to lean on and show him the ropes.
"It's been great being around Kenny and Marv and Danny," Cephus said after Saturday's live scrimmage between the offense and defense. "Those guys have been in this league for a while and they're doing great things and my mindset coming into it was just being around them and soaking up all I can and learning from them.
"They've been doing a great job helping me out answering questions I have in meetings and just having that player-to-player relationship. It's been great being around those guys and seeing the plays they make and just trying to step in and just do whatever I can to help the team."
Jones invited Cephus to his home in San Diego in the offseason to work out and help prepare the youngster for what to expect in training camp. Cephus said that week was invaluable for him. All three of those veteran receivers have been nothing but supportive to Cephus, and it's part of the reason why Cephus hasn't looked much like a rookie these first couple weeks.
"We're just trying to teach him the ways of the NFL," Amendola said of Cephus. "Trying to help him with the playbook, with the route schemes, the concepts and just whatever question he has, we have a great working relationship. He's a great kid and we're really happy to have him."
Cephus (6-1, 205) led Wisconsin with 59 receptions for 901 yards and seven touchdowns last season. When rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah was asked at this year's NFL Scouting Combine who the toughest receiver he had to cover in college was, he without hesitation said Cephus. That was before they were teammates in Detroit.
Cephus isn't a burner. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds at the Combine, but he's got a basketball background and his suddenness at the line of scrimmage allows for a good release. That's been an asset for him so far, along with his ability to catch the ball in traffic and separate at the top of his route.
Cephus, Marvin Hall and converted cornerback Jamal Agnew have consistently been playmakers for the second-team offense at receiver.
"To me, I was never really a runner," Cephus said of his 40-time at the Combine. "I was a football player always. Just a great athlete. I kind of prided myself on being an athlete and knowing what to do on the football field.
"It was tough, people always put a lot of hype on the 40, but really, I just went back in my head and just said, 'That didn't get me where I am. Being a football player and playing on the football field got me to where I am.'"
So where is Cephus now? He's two weeks away from the Lions' regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears, with an opportunity to play a role in this receiving corps early on thanks to the good training camp he's had.