Confident Fuller still troubled by dropped pass

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Allen Park — In the larger scheme a things, an incomplete pass in an exhibition might not register as a big deal.

But for Corey Fuller, the drop that ended the second drive for the Lions was a big play. It came on third down, and the Lions settled for a field goal.

While it’s just a blip in the bigger picture, Fuller is taking a veteran’s view of the play, still reviewing it in his mind Friday after the 21-17 loss to Washington on Thursday.

“I didn’t brush it off,” said Fuller, who had another pass on his fingertips but couldn’t pull it in. “It’s been haunting me. Both of them, I could have pinned down to my shoulder. I’m replaying how I could have done it. I don’t let it go.”

Those were Fuller’s only targets in the game.

But in his third season, he’s not worried about the potential implications on a roster spot that drops could have.

After being relegated to the practice squad his first year in 2013, Fuller made the roster last season and played in all 16 games, with two starts. He finished with 14 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown, but is looking to have better production this season.

“I’m just more confident in myself, confident in knowing what (quarterback Matthew Stafford is) looking for, so it’s a little bit easier and less stressful,” said Fuller, 25. “(The confidence is from) experience from last year and trusting my training over the offseason.”

That confidence is evident in the way Fuller carries himself during practice. And although he hasn’t had a lot of big exhibition numbers, coach Jim Caldwell sees the difference in the young, speedy receiver from the first season in the offense.

“He was a pretty confident player last year; he made some big plays for us toward the end of the year,” Caldwell said. “There are only so many balls to go around, so it’s tough to make a determination (based on stats). We know he’s improving; he’s getting better and he’s a better route runner than he was a year ago.”

But another addition to the receiving corps is having a positive impact on the entire group.

Lance Moore, who played in the system with the Saints, is making a mark in the group meetings and on the field.

“What I learned from Calvin (Johnson) in the last three years has been amazing,” Fuller said. “Golden (Tate) came in last year and taught us a lot about the slot and how to get in and out and what to look for. Bringing in Lance and his 11 years in the league, he’s like an offensive coordinator out on the field. He knows everything; he’s like a coach on the field.

“We joke with Lance all the time — when Lance talks, everybody just stops and listens. I call him ‘Coach Lance’ sometimes. He knows the defenses and what they’re looking to do and what a particular linebacker is trying to do and this is how to counter it.”

An additional year learning the offense and building on his production has been beneficial, but Fuller is hoping to hone his craft to the degree he worries about every play and doesn’t take any of it for granted.

Although Fuller took the blame for the dropped pass, Stafford pointed the finger at himself for not getting a little more on the throw.

“I had to cut loose that ball to Corey Fuller on that last one a little bit earlier than I wanted to,” Stafford said Thursday. “I wish I could’ve held on to it a half-second longer and maybe put it out in front and we could’ve had a big play.”

As the only other outside threat on the roster besides Johnson, Fuller appears to have secured a spot, but still goes out and works against Ryan Broyles and Greg Salas, who as jockeying for one of the final receiver spots, along with Jeremy Ross.

“I think we all go out and have a friendly competition,” Fuller said. “We all know we’re fighting for positions and we want the best for each other.”