Lions rookies Kenny Golladay, Michael Roberts flash potential

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Kenny Golladay was lined up at the 3-yard line. It was during one-on-one drills with cornerbacks, a daily part of the team’s practice where he’ll typically go up against a Detroit Lions corner and have a quarterback throw him the ball.

Sometimes, it’s from deeper on the field. Sometimes they work much closer to the end zone. And on Sunday, it was time to work some goal line again. And Golladay, the rookie receiver from Northern Illinois, lined up against starting cornerback Nevin Lawson.

The rep started and by the time he caught the fade route in the back corner of the end zone over Lawson, he had created enough separation in a short space to be noticed. This has been a theme of training camp for Golladay and the Lions.

“What we’ve seen on the field is kind of what we expected,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “But like I said, let’s wait and see. He’s got to progress. He’s got to keep getting better. You know, this league is a challenging league.

“Let’s see how he matches up against some of the guys that are in this league that have been around a while. But we like what he’s doing thus far.”

Yes, he’s still a rookie and has yet to face another team, but Golladay has been impressive throughout camp. He’s continually making difficult catches against most of Detroit’s cornerbacks and has figured out how to use his skill set to his advantage. There still will be rough times for him -- as there are for every rookie -- but he’s made a good first (and second, if you start with the spring) impression.

Here are some other thoughts, observations and notes from Day 7 of Lions training camp:

1. Michael Roberts had a good day: Over and over again Sunday, the rookie tight end seemed to come up with difficult catches -- potentially a sign he’s getting over the drops and fumbling issues he had the first week of camp, including during the mock game Saturday. He had a nice catch over fellow rookie Teez Tabor for a touchdown in 11-on-11 from Jake Rudock and two plays later, had a nice catch on a delayed throw from Brad Kaaya and headed into the end zone. Roberts is going to have inconsistent days -- and might end up being inconsistent throughout camp -- but Sunday was a strong day for him and that’s something the Lions need as long as Eric Ebron is out. Ebron, for what it’s worth, was spotted doing some running work on the side Sunday afternoon. That’s generally a good sign a player is getting closer to a return.

2. A good offensive line day in individuals: For much of camp, the defensive line has been more impressive than the offensive line -- although it’s a tough argument since there’s no tackling and they are not trying to bring someone to the ground and potentially increase the chance of injury. But in one-on-one drills with the defensive line, the starting offensive line held up well. Rick Wagner, Joe Dahl, Travis Swanson and Greg Robinson all won their battles -- and Robinson beat Anthony Zettel, who had been dominant against Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio in the drill all camp. Some of the backups also held up well, including Cornelius Lucas, who won both his reps. Dahl was among the starting five because T.J. Lang sat out practice Sunday. Typically, Laken Tomlinson had been taking reps ahead of Dahl when Lang was out, but on Sunday Dahl got reps ahead of Tomlinson, who worked with the second unit. The only starting offensive lineman who lost a rep was Graham Glasgow, who got beat by Jordan Hill. Hill has had an impressive camp thus far. I’ll be curious to see what he does in games, but Caldwell was high on him, too.

3. Injuries (and/or rest days) everywhere: Between injured lists and players sitting out, the Lions had at least one player in every position group except quarterback miss Sunday’s practice. Running backs Ameer Abdullah and Mike James, wide receiver Ryan Spadola, tight ends Brandon Barnes and Ebron, offensive linemen Lang and Kouandjio, defensive linemen Cornelius Washington and Haloti Ngata, linebackers Thurston Armbrister and Paul Worrilow and cornerback Des Lawrence were all out of practice. Ezekiel Ansah, Armonty Bryant, Taylor Decker, Corey Robinson, Brandon Thomas and punter Sam Martin all remain on injured lists.

4. Noel Thomas is a receiver to watch in preseason: To be clear, I’d be surprised if Thomas made the final roster, but he continues to have a bunch of nice catches regularly. The former Connecticut receiver caught nice fade passes in the corner of the end zone over rookie Jamal Agnew and Adairius Barnes in one-on-ones and also had a nice inside slant move for another catch in the drill. He has yet to flash in team drills, but he’ll be a second-half guy to pay attention to next Sunday in the preseason opener against the Colts to see if he can make plays and move up the depth chart at a fairly open position.

This and that

The Lions have their last open-to-the-public practice Monday at 2 p.m. The crowds the past two days -- for the mock game at Ford Field and Sunday -- were much better than at the start of camp, where the atmosphere was fairly quiet and lacking any sort of energy. … Theo Riddick, Tavon Wilson and Don Carey continued to wear no-contact red jerseys.