September 3, 2014 at 1:00 am

Receiver Corey Fuller knows there's room to grow after making Lions

Lions wide receiver Cory Fuller, left, had two touchdowns in the exhibition season, including this one against the Browns at Ford Field. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)

Allen Park — Lions wide receiver Corey Fuller had a couple of phone calls Saturday with a wide range of emotions.

His parents were at Virginia Tech waiting to watch his youngest brother Kendall, a sophomore cornerback, play in the season opener. The game began at 4 p.m., the same time the Lions had to make their final cuts to make the 53-man roster.

“As kickoff happened, my mother called me, and she’s like, ‘So, what’s the deal?’ ” Fuller said. “I said, ‘I’m going to call you right back.’ ”

Fuller looked on Twitter, knowing that’s where news of the roster moves would break. That’s when he realized no news is good news on cut day and learned he made the Lions in his second season after spending his rookie year on the practice squad.

Upon realizing the good news, Fuller called his other two brothers — Vincent, who played seven NFL seasons as a defensive back including one with the Lions, and Kyle, a cornerback the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round this year.

“The first thing I said to (Kyle) was I’m going to route you up. Just be ready for me to beat you,” Fuller said, thinking about the two divisional matchups this season. “He was like, ‘Nah.’

“Then we went into a little trash talk, but he congratulated me and I asked how he was doing and we talked from there.”

Fuller was feeling good about making the Lions, but as he’s shown so far during his time in Detroit, he never gets too excited about anything.

“Deep down, I was very excited, but my personality, I’m not the cheesing, excited (guy),” he said. “I’m happy, I’m excited, but I want to keep on building.”

Fuller made impressive strides from his first year to his second. As a sixth-round pick last year, Fuller was incredibly raw as a route runner and pass catcher, which overshadowed his 4.43-second 40-yard dash speed and size at 6-foot-2.

Considering Fuller walked on at Virginia Tech in 2010 after running track at Kansas and was only productive his senior season (43 catches for 815 yards), the Lions knew he was a project, which was why they were sure to keep him on the practice squad.

And in training camp this year, Fuller looked like a new player, getting open on deep and medium routes and catching most balls thrown near him. His progress shone through during the exhibition games as he had six catches for 90 yards, including touchdowns of 21 yards in the first game and 25 yards in the fourth that certainly helped him earn one of six wide receiver spots.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said it was clear Fuller made plays, which was why he made the 53-man roster, but he also noted the young receiver’s hunger. Even after making the team, Fuller wasn’t too excited this week when asked to describe his strong exhibition performance.

“I can’t really grade myself,” he said. “I’m really hard on myself. I think even the last game, the second and third game, there was a lot of stuff that I made a mistake on or I could’ve done better. Even if it’s one or two plays, I’m going to count that as the whole game.”

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, though, praised Fuller’s development.

“I think he’s a talented young kid and obviously has great long speed,” he said. “He’s developing every day we come out here and getting better.”

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com
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