Indianapolis — The Detroit Lions know what they have in Matthew Stafford, Glover Quin and Haloti Ngata. But with the team’s rookies, the picture of their abilities is far from complete, with only practice film against teammates to judge right now.
That’s the biggest value in joint practices. It gives the coaching staff a deeper evaluation tool to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their young talent, testing them in the cauldron of an unfamiliar environment against unfamiliar competition.
No Lions rookie has generated more buzz than receiver Kenny Golladay, who has routinely beaten the defensive backs on his own roster, crafting the perception he’s ready to step in and contribute immediately, helping fill the roster spot previously manned by accomplished veteran Anquan Boldin.
The joint practices against the Indianapolis Colts offered Golladay an early opportunity to validate his hype and give him a head start on working on improving his deficiencies. After two drops, including one with a Colts cornerback playing physical coverage on a slant, coach Jim Caldwell said the rookie receiver got the message.
“Yesterday I think he learned a few lessons about what tight coverage is all about and how you have to deliver in tight coverage,” Caldwell said Friday. “I think he’s got a big enough body to get it done, but I’ll have to look at it and see how he did today.”
Golladay’s second day wasn’t without flaws — he put another catchable ball on the ground — but he also continued to showcase exciting potential. After snagging a short pass, he displayed the ability to make a tackler miss in space. On another catch, he maintained possession after absorbing a bit hit almost immediately after the ball arrived.
“I still had a couple hiccups, but I feel like I did, on my part, a little bit better than yesterday,” he said. “That’s letting the game come to me and playing under control a little bit more.”
Golladay is aware of the headlines he’s been generating. No matter how much players try to avoid what’s being written about them, it gets forwarded on by family and friends. He’s doing his best to not let the positive press impact his mindset.
“I don’t let that stuff get to me,” he said. “I know the very next day we could put a new play in and I could possibly mess it up. I can’t let little articles get in my head like that, especially if (reporters) aren’t in our meetings when coach is chewing me out for something I didn’t do right.”
Golladay will look to keep building on his performance this Sunday, when he plays in his first preseason game. Even though he’s a Chicago native, he’s not expecting anyone to make the three-hour trip to catch his debut.