Big Quinshad Davis hopes to fill void in Lions’ WR group

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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Lions wide receiver Quinshad Davis readies for a reception.

Allen Park – The Detroit Lions have done all they can to narrow the production gap caused by the retirement of Calvin Johnson. But while the additions of Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin go a long way toward spanning that gulf, the team still lacks the imposing physical presence Johnson offered on the outside, particularly in the red zone.

That’s where Quinshad Davis hopes to fill the void. An undrafted free agent out of North Carolina, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is the biggest receiver on the Lions’ roster.

When he first arrived for rookie minicamp, Davis noticeably struggled more than some of the other receivers with the acclimation process, but with each practice, he’s looking more and more comfortable with what the Detroit coaching staff has put on his plate.

“It’s a comfort level, knowing the playbook better and just getting used to things work around here, how practice is run,” Davis said.

Davis has leaned on former college teammate, tight end Eric Ebron, to accelerate that understanding of the playbook.

Ebron is able to speak from experience. As a rookie two years ago, he often joked about popping headache medication while struggling to absorb the Lions’ voluminous number of offensive formations and plays.

And while Davis’ height causes him to stand out between the white lines, he’s doing everything he can to avoid ruffling feathers off the field. When the Lions signed Boldin last week, the rookie willingly gave up his No. 80 jersey to the veteran, switching to No. 1.

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It’s common practice to seek some sort of compensation when giving up a jersey number, which would have been understandable considering Davis’ contract with the Lions carries just $3,000 in guaranteed money, but he never considered it.

“Out of respect, he’s a vet and I’m just trying to pay my dues,” Davis said. “If he wants 80, he can have 80.”

Davis played four seasons for the Tar Heels, catching 205 passes for 2,614 yards. Impressively, he found the end zone 25 times, or once every 8.2 receptions. In training camp, he’s battling veterans Andre Caldwell and Andre Roberts, as well as fellow undrafted rookie Jay Lee, for what will likely be one job.

If Davis isn’t able to crack the main roster, he and Lee will both be strong candidates for the team’s practice squad.

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Roster move

The Lions made a minor move at the bottom of the roster Tuesday afternoon, swapping out injured receiver Ryan Spadola for wideout Damian Copeland.

Copeland, who was briefly with the organization in June, was released after the Lions signed Boldin prior to the start of training camp. An undrafted free agent in 2014, Copeland spent much of his two professional seasons on injured reserve as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 5-foot-11, 184-pounder led Louisville in receptions in 2012 and 2013, catching 108 passes for 1,408 yards and seven touchdowns during that stretch. He also posted an impressive 40-inch vertical leap at the scouting combine leading up to the 2014 NFL draft.

The Lions initially added Spadola to the practice squad last October. He had missed the past two days of practice with an undisclosed injury and was waived with an injury designation. If he goes unclaimed on waivers, his rights will revert back to the Lions and he’ll either be placed on injured reserve or reach an injury settlement with the team.

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