Rookie WR Lee’s performance stands out for Lions

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The day didn’t begin great for Jay Lee but sure ended nicely.

The undrafted free agent wide receiver was penalized for blocking below the waist on a long kickoff return early in Saturday’s mock game at Ford Field.

Not the way the rookie out of Baylor would want to begin the afternoon.

Not that Lee thought it was a penalty, either.

“I didn’t even touch the guy,” said Lee, with a wry smile. “We’ll live with it and keep moving forward.

“You have to make up for it. I didn’t think it was a penalty, but we’ll watch the tape and go from there.”

Lee more than made up for it as the afternoon went along.

Five passes were thrown in Lee’s direction Saturday — and he caught all five, including one for a touchdown.

With the offense struggling at times Saturday with dropped passes and erratic overall play, Lee’s performance definitely stood out.

For a young wide receiver competing for a spot on the roster — one wide receiver spot appears open to claim — this was a nice way to make an impression.

“Obviously, it’s against our guys and we’ve been going against them for two or three weeks now,” Lee said. “It’s a good feeling going into Pittsburgh (for practices and an exhibition game), the first preseason game, and getting that (mock game) under our belts.

“I think I did pretty well. There are a lot of things I still have to go out and fix as far as what I’m doing on the field, but I think I did pretty well (Saturday).”

The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Lee caught 38 passes at Baylor for 758 yards for a 19.9 yards-per-catch average.

Some draft projections had Lee being a late-round draft pick, but he slipped through the final day of the draft unpicked.

Camp observations: First-unit offense rusty during mock game

The Lions showed interest quickly and Lee said he felt a comfort level with the organization immediately, signing with them as a free agent.

A good blocking wide receiver, Lee has to adjust from a spread offense at Baylor to an NFL offense.

Lee feels he’s gradually making the adjustment from the spread offense — where the receiver’s responsibilities are much looser than what’s expected in an NFL offense.

“You work with these guys every day and you get a feel for them,” Lee said. “We’re just trying to come together and make sure everything out there is perfect.

“Obviously it’s not going to be perfect, so you have to work every day.”

Lee, as were many of the Lions’ rookies, had a thrill Saturday playing at Ford Field.

It was the first time at the stadium for many of them, including Lee, who felt a different type of vibe compared to daily practices in Allen Park.

“I love this type of atmosphere, this is just a mock game and you have all these fans who come out and are supporting us,” Lee said. “It didn’t hit me at first but it’s hitting me now.”

Having played at a major college football powerhouse such as Baylor, you wouldn’t have expected Lee of being wide-eyed of the entire event.

But Lee admitted the surroundings and first live NFL experience got to him early.

“Little butterflies in the beginning,” Lee admitted of the mock game. “But it all shook out after the first catch. We had about 50,000 fans (for the Baylor games), but you’re in the big stage now and you have to perform.

“I’ve played in (Dallas) Cowboys Stadium, but now you get to come to a different situation and show what you got and in front of these fans, it’s a great feeling.”