Allen Park — With Golden Tate ailing, the Lions signed wide receiver Jace Billingsley off the practice squad Wednesday. To fill the spot on the practice squad, the Lions re-signed recently waived quarterback Brad Kaaya.
Undrafted out of Eastern Oregon, the 5-foot-9 Billingsley has been productive the past two preseasons, catching 22 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns in the eight games.
“I think he’s one of those guys that works extremely hard,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s smart, he’s quick and he’s got some talent. He’s looking for an opportunity, trying to create a path for himself and I know he’s excited.”
Billingsley is primarily a slot receiver, and has exhibited some of the same short-area quickness and open-field elusiveness as Tate, but Caldwell rejected any comparisons between the two players.
“I think they stand on their own, in the abilities that they have, how they go about it,” Caldwell said. “You may try to lump them together, but they’re different — different styles, different levels of quickness, just different. They may line up in similar spots, but they’re not the same.”
Tate is dealing with a shoulder injury he suffered in the third quarter of the team’s game against the Saints. The NFL Network reported it’s an AC joint sprain and will keep him sidelined at least a couple weeks, though Tate surprisingly was participating in practice Wednesday.
As for Kaaya, a sixth-round draft pick for the Lions this year, he spent the first six weeks with the Carolina Panthers after he was claimed off waivers in early September. Kaaya was put back on waivers by the Panthers last week, only to be claimed by the Lions and waived again a week later.