By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – A practice squad wide receiver in 2013, Corey Fuller attended rookie minicamp again this season, and he hopes this time around to make the 53-man roster. Fuller spent last year getting acclimated, watching closely every move of veterans Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, and now he wants to compete for a more prominent role on the team.
“I was focusing on developing, learning as much as I can,” Fuller said Sunday. “Now I think it’s more of – I still want to develop more, but I still want to compete.”
There will be plenty of competition, with 11 wide receivers currently on the team. Barring any surprises, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate will start. Jeremy Ross, Kevin Ogletree, Ryan Broyles, Kris Durham and Pat Edwards all got into games for the Lions last seasons. TJ Jones and Andrew Peacock are rookies this year, and Naaman Roosevelt, who contributed for the Buffalo Bills in 2010 and 2011, is also on the roster.
Several factors, however, could give Fuller a chance to stand out, particularly from other players close to his age. First, he spent all last season under the tutelage of Johnson and Burleson – Johnson the best receiver in the NFL and Burleson one who has made a lengthy career as a secondary receiver. Fuller said he learned everything from that pair of players.
“Following Nate and CJ last year, it was amazing,” Fuller said. “How to be a pro, how to take care of yourself in the weight room, in the training room, coming in early, being the first person in the building, just everything.”
When Fuller arrived at the podium on the last day of rookie minicamp, he addressed the perception he had put on some weight. Actually, he said, he had lost weight – down to 200 pounds from 212 in training camp in 2013.
“Last year I was so worried about putting on so much weight,” Fuller said. “I thought I had to be heavier, and I was just stuffing my mouth with any and everything. And then when, I think during the season I started losing a little bit of weight, and then now I’m eating healthier, eating the right foods.
“I didn’t feel slow or anything else like that,” Fuller added. “I could just see it in my body that it wasn’t good for me. Like you said, you’ve seen that I’ve gained weight when I’ve actually lost weight, so I’m actually eating healthier but I weigh a lot less than I was last year.”
Fuller’s body underwent a positive change in the offseason, but the offense that Fuller worked hard to learn changed too. Instead of having an advantage over the first-year players in the system, Fuller is learning the new offense just like everyone else. As far as competing overall, however, the change gives Fuller more of a level playing field.
“Everybody’s coming in learning the same offense, whereas last year when I came in, everybody already knew the offense, so they had a step ahead of me,” Fuller said. “Now we’re learning it at the same time … We have the same process to learn it, and I can compete.”
New Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said Fuller’s presence at the minicamp was instrumental because it got him some extra repetitions.
“He was on the practice squad, obviously, a year ago and did have an opportunity to come in and still work and try to improve his craft,” Caldwell said. “He was able to grind through it on the weekend and did a nice job. He was also able to kind of pave the way for some of the guys that had not. He’s been doing it for five weeks now, I guess, so he’s a good bell cow for us.
“He set the stage for us in that regard,” Caldwell said. “He was absolutely outstanding.”