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O'HARA: Fells showing off receiving skills in camp

Getting splashed with cold water by teammate Golden Tate could not have been more refreshing or more welcome for tight end Darren Fells after a practice performance that made him one of the standouts in the Detroit Lions' first two days of training camp.

It actually was more like a sprinkle when Tate snuck up behind Fells after Tuesday's practice and dumped cold water on his head from a plastic bottle. Tate followed up with a cold towel on Fells' neck.

"You were hot today," Tate told Fells during a media interview.

On a hot day --- temperature in the upper 80s, wispy clouds and light winds – Fells had a hot pair of hands. He made a number of catches, but none more eye-popping than a reception on a long throw from Matthew Stafford.

Fells got position in a battle with safety Tavon Wilson and jumped to take the ball away. It was a situation where Fells used his size – 6-7, 281 pounds – and the skills and techniques he developed as a basketball player.

"Talking to Matt, he said he didn't want to overthrow me," Fells said, adding some self-deprecating comments. "He said I was too slow. He wanted to throw it high. He knew I was a basketball player. I went up and got the rebound."

The catch by Fells was one of the highlight plays of the first two days of training camp.

It's easy to go overboard, but the long catch and others Fells has made in camp are promising signs that the Lions may have added more than a blocking specialist at tight end when they signed Fells as a free agent in March.

Fells did not play football in college. His athletic skills come from playing basketball at Cal-Irvine, and in the pro leagues for five years in Europe, Mexico and Argentina. He turned to pro football in 2013 after his basketball career ended.

He did not make the Seahawks' roster in 2013, but he spent the last three seasons on the Arizona Cardinals' active roster. He had 40 receptions in Arizona for 536 yards and four touchdowns.

The first priority for Fells is to give the Lions a competent blocking tight end, something they've lacked since Brandon Pettigrew was healthy and in his prime.

However, head coach Jim Caldwell said when Fells was signed that he did not expect him to be one dimensional.

"He's a bit more mobile than what you can expect and anticipate," Caldwell said Tuesday. "He can catch the ball. He can do it in a number of different areas. Today he had a couple of nice catches.

"He's a big target.  He's working at it, and he's getting better."

Eric Ebron still figures to be the Lions' primary receiving tight end, but Fells is looking forward to more receiving opportunities with the Lions than he had with the Cardinals because of the way the offense is set up and how Stafford spreads the ball around to whoever gets open.

"It's a different style of offense," Fells said. "In Arizona, we were run first. Here, we're trying to become a little more run first. Stafford said he's going to pass the ball. I'll definitely have a little more chances here.

"I know they give Matt a lot of freedom in the offense to see what he wants to do, which helps a lot. He's not stuck with one play in the offense. He has a lot of options.

"Matt definitely has a lot of trust in everybody out there. He's shown he has faith in me, too."

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