Kenny Golladay looked like a different player in the Detroit Lions’ three-day minicamp, and the growth from his rookie season should be no surprise.
Experience is a great teacher in the NFL, and Golladay learned a lot as a rookie that he can carry into his second season playing wide receiver.
Golladay fit in well with veteran starters Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. and he looks like he’s ready to take a step forward with the long strides that made him an effective contributor.
“I got quite a bit of playing time last year,” Golladay said during minicamp. “I just, at this time, want to build and stack days on top of one another.”
As a third-round draft pick out of Northern Illinois, Golladay started his rookie season on a high note and finished it that way.
In the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, Golladay caught two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to help lead a rally from a 17-9 deficit in the third quarter to a 35-23 win.
Golladay’s 10-yard catch gave the Lions a 21-17 lead. He followed that with a 45-yard grab as he lunged across the goal line to extend the lead to 28-17.
Golladay closed out the season in Week 17 with two catches for 84 yards in a 35-11 win over the Packers. One catch went for 54 yards and a TD.
For the season, Golladay had 28 catches for 477 yards, three touchdowns and an average of 17 yards per catch.
It was a good start, but just that – a start. Golladay wants to do more.
“I can’t be satisfied and complacent with that,” he said. “I know I want to be a big part of this team. If I want to make that happen, I’ve got to come out here each and every day and try to get better.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford liked what Golladay brought to the offense, and the potential for more is there if Golladay reaps the same benefit that most players do going into their second season.
It’s imperative that players work to get better, Stafford said.
“Just growth,” Stafford said. “That’s what we’re all trying to do. I’m going into year 10. I’m trying to get better. The second year, you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’re not trying to get better – you’re probably going to get a rude slap in the face.
“He had a few injuries, but man, when he was out there he did a nice job for us."
At 6-4 and 218 pounds, Golladay fits well with Tate and Jones in what should continue to be a good passing game. His size provides physical presence, and he has enough speed to go the distance.
A year of experience is invaluable for all rookies – on and off the field. Rookies face time demands and obstacles that are unlike any other season of their careers.
“There’s a huge transition from first year to second year,” said head coach Matt Patricia. “If you think about it, when you go into your first year, your rookie year, you spend obviously the spring of that training for a Combine or training for interviews.
“You’re just not really in the mode. And then, it’s that big adjustment into the league and that level. The second year is when you really get some time to learn – dive into the details of some of the things you’re doing.”