Evidence backing the hype? Kenny Golladay nabs first-team WR reps

After an impressive preseason debut, Lions rookie receiver Kenny Golladay played with the first team in three-receiver sets during Wednesday's practice. Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Kenny Golladay spent some of his first few months with the Detroit Lions getting work in with quarterback Matthew Stafford, but primarily spent his team drills lining up with the second team.

Not anymore. Not after a preseason debut in which he had two touchdown catches with high degrees of difficulty and showed he could be a red zone option. In the team's first practice after the preseason opener against the Colts, Golladay ended up in a new position.

When the Lions ran three-receiver sets, he was with the starters, replacing TJ Jones.

"He's one of those guys that we're just trying to make certain that we give him a bit of experience in a little bit of everything to kind of see where he fits," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "We have an idea but you really don't know until you get him a chance to really delve in to one spot or the other. So, we're trying to cross-train him a little bit.

"But he has the speed. He has the length and those kinds of things you look for, for good matchups on the outside."

Golladay worked primarily on the outside during those three-receiver sets and that pushed Golden Tate into the slot -- a place where he's proven he can be a dangerous receiver throughout his career because of his ability to make defenders miss and run after the catch.

It's not clear if this was a trial period for Golladay or if he has overtaken Jones, who still received some first-team work in certain situations along with Tate and Marvin Jones. TJ Jones and Jared Abbrederis often received second-team work with Jace Billingsley getting a look, too.

Considering the competition for the fourth-and-fifth receiver spots, that'll still be a battle to watch -- as will where the Lions use Golladay on a more regular basis. Even as he pushes to end up with more reps, expectations for him should be managed because he's more than likely the fifth option in the offense behind Tate, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron and a combination of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. But if he keeps playing like he did in practice and the opener, he'll force his way into more opportunities.

Still no Eric Ebron: After the tight end made a cameo in practices in Indianapolis, he once again did not practice Wednesday and Caldwell said he has "a couple issues that he's dealing with." It's not clear, other than the hamstring, what those issues are but he's had knee and ankle injuries in the past. It leads to the question of whether Ebron, now in his fourth season and still yet to play a full 16-game campaign, will always have some sort of injury. Other than the brief appearance in Indianapolis, he hasn't practiced since being injured the first day of training camp.

"I hope not," Caldwell said. "He's had a few here and there but hopefully he'll get to a point where he gets a pretty healthy stretch going. But sometimes you find guys that are highly-explosive guys, they may have an issue once in a while.

"But hopefully he can battle through it."

Cornelius the starter: Cornelius Washington has sat out a lot of training camp due to injuries -- one of the many along the defensive line. But on Wednesday, he returned to practice and was back with the starters opposite Anthony Zettel. Washington was going to be pushed for a starting spot by Kerry Hyder, but Hyder's torn Achilles essentially ended that competition before it started. "I don't like how this is going down," Washington said. "I was expecting to have to battle with Kerry for the spot, but we still got some young guys coming up." He cited Alex Barrett as a player who has caught his eye. But Washington seems to be in a position to be a starter this season opposite Ezekiel Ansah.

A depth corner lack of issue: Between how Teez Tabor looked against the Colts and D.J. Hayden's improved play, the Lions might have strong depth at corner behind Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson. Even the designated special teamer has been showing up more. Johnson Bademosi had a clear interception Wednesday and another one that was overturned (but likely shouldn't have been) in the end zone. He's been consistently around the ball in practice and should be able to handle being the team's No. 3 or No. 4 outside corner this season along with his special teams duties.

Marvin Jones looks good: He continues to be impressive throughout camp, making the play of the day Wednesday with a nice jumping grab over Darius Slay in one-on-one drills. Jones' biggest thing is consistency and turning big plays into touchdowns -- something he's been working on -- and while he didn't get much opportunity against the Colts, he's been consistent in practice over the past two weeks.

This and that

The Lions are running into tight end depth issues with Eric Ebron, Tim Wright and Cole Wick out Wednesday. It led to Robert Tonyan receiving some first-team reps. ... A guy who might make a surprise move up the depth chart? Alex Carter. He almost had an interception against Indianapolis and got a little bit of work in specialized packages with the Lions first-team defense. Could be a ways to go for him to make the roster, but he has been improved through camp. ... T.J. Lang returned to practice Wednesday. ... A small skirmish broke out when linebacker Nick Bellore and center Leo Koloamatangi got into it after Bellore pushed down on Koloamantangi's facemask but it was broken up following a couple of shoves.