Incarnate Word’s Wick impresses Lions with heavenly catches

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Cole Wick (89)

Allen Park — For the first time in the past three weeks, Lions tight end Eric Ebron was on the field for the organized team activities open to the media Thursday.

But, it was a different tight end that impressed during the practice.

Cole Wick, an undrafted rookie from Incarnate Word, made several nice catches during the session.

One came against starting middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead. Another was in a red zone drill. And each time, the 6-foot-6, 254-pound Wick turned up the field and looked to gain more yards.

“He’s learning, but he’s getting better,” coach Jim Caldwell said of the rookie. “He does have some distinct qualities that he’s been able to look pretty good out here without any pads on. You got to wait until the pads come on, so we’ll see.”

Tight end is an especially tough position to evaluate in shorts. Once the pads come on, defensive linemen will try to knock Wick off his route, and linebackers or defensive backs will be a lot more physical in coverage.

Wick is one of just two Incarnate Word players in the NFL, along with Philadelphia rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres, and coming from an FCS school, it might take some time to adjust to the level of competition. But for now, the long and tall tight end appears to have potential at a position where there are questions about who will contribute behind Ebron.

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A few other notes from Thursday’s practice:

* As has been the case throughout OTAs, the Lions had several players sitting out Thursday.

Running backs Ameer Abdullah and Stevan Ridley, defensive tackles Caraun Reid and Stefan Charles, safety Glover Quin, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, offensive tackle Corey Robinson, wide receivers Jeremy Kerley and Corey Washington, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and defensive backs Ian Wells and Charles Washington were out.

Wide receiver Corey Fuller was also sidelined after undergoing foot surgery on Wednesday.

Ebron and offensive tackle Michael Ola were among the players that participated after sitting out other practices.

* Center Travis Swanson returned after sitting out last week and was back with the starting offensive line. Gabe Ikard remains the second option, still ahead of third-round pick Graham Glasgow.

* Linebacker Jerry Franklin had an impressive interception during a red-zone drill.

* Rookie running back Charles Washington, a seventh-round pick, participated in practice Thursday after missing the majority of OTAs while finishing schoolwork at Washington. Although he showed tremendous burst on one run, he also had an ugly drop in the flat and had a mishap with a handoff.

* Cornerback Adairius Barnes, an undrafted rookie from Louisiana Tech, made a diving interception against rookie receiver Jace Billingsley.

* Undrafted rookie receivers Jay Lee and Quinshad Davis each made a nice play on a deep pass during one-on-one drills.

* Cornerback Alex Carter had a rough day in one-on-one drills, being called for pass interference against receiver Ryan Spadola and nearly falling down while covering Billingsley.