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O'HARA: Golladay excited to have Stafford as mentor

Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay couldn't have found a better person than quarterback Matthew Stafford to go to for help on his first day of training camp with the Detroit Lions.

Stafford did more than answer Golladay's questions after Sunday afternoon's practice. He stayed and threw extra passes to him – and told the rookie to come back any time.

For Golladay, it was a relief and an inspiration for the future that the unquestioned face of the franchise would make himself readily available. Stafford made it clear that he was always available.

"We're still trying to get a feel for one another," Golladay said after practice. "We actually just got done running a few routes. It was me coming to ask him, 'Can you throw me a couple passes that I feel like I didn't do as good on? I need a little extra work.'

"What he really said was, 'Whenever you feel like you need something, come to me. I've got it. It's a great feeling, an older guy like that – a veteran actually taking me under his wing and helping me.

"What he really said to me was, 'It's going to come in time. Just keep working on it.'"

Golladay is in competition for the No. 3 receiver spot to go with starters Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. At 6-4 and 213 pounds, Golladay gives the Lions a big receiver with good hands and the potential to stretch the field and provide a threat in the red zone.

If Golladay performs at the level the Lions projected when they drafted him late in the third round after a productive career at Northern Illinois, he could be an important part of the passing game.

Stafford and Golladay connected on one play for a long gain early in practice that showed that potential could be a reality. Golladay got open on a double move down the right sideline to catch a long pass and run the last few yards into the end zone.

Later in practice, Golladay got low to catch a short throw and turn up the left sideline for a good gain.

View photos from the first practice of 2017 Detroit Lions training camp.

At the mandatory minicamp in June, Stafford spoke highly of what he had seen of Golladay in the offseason – but with a cautionary note not to expect too much from a rookie right away.

"Like a lot of these guys out here, especially this time of camp, we've got the majority of things in," Stafford said. "Sometimes you start to see a little bit of overload in certain aspects.

"Obviously, he's got a bunch of physical tools. It's going to be on himself, me, the coaching staff, everybody, to bring him and along and get him ready to go."

Golladay also has gotten advice from other veterans on what to expect in training camp in general.

"Really that it's just a grind," Golladay said. "Get as much sleep as possible. When we break from the meeting at night, go home, get in your bed. Almost turn the phone off. Other than that, just get rest."

Golladay was rested and eager to go for the start of training camp. It was an exciting time in the young athlete's life, with the possibility in front of him to make a dream a reality.

"Very exciting, and a little tiring as you can see," Golladay said. "But fun, nonetheless. My very first training camp – that's exciting in its own right. You're playing football all your life and actually living out your dream."

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