By: Will Burchfield
The Lions have listed Kenny Golladay as questionable for Sunday’s game, but the rookie wide receiver spoke on Friday as if his stint on the sidelines is over.
Golladay hasn’t played since Week 3 due to a nagging hamstring injury.
“Coming in as a rookie, not missing any games in college, really, and then had to sit out, what, five (games)? Of course it was pretty tough,” said Golladay.
Golladay has practiced on and off in the past few weeks, but he didn’t miss a practice this week for the first time since his injury. Though he acknowledged he has some rust to shake off, he feels like a good bet to suit up on Sunday versus the Browns.
“I’ve been out for a while. Running routes in air isn’t the same as when you have someone in front of you, but it doesn’t take too long to shake the rust,” he said.
A five-game absence can be damaging to a rookie, especially so early in the season, but Golladay doesn’t feel like his injury stunted his development.
“I wouldn’t say that. When I was sitting out I had to come to every meeting and participate. I had to take mental notes at that point,” he said.
And Golladay believes he benefited from watching the game from a different vantage point.
“I guess you could say it gave me a chance to look at the game from the sideline,” he said.
It’s been more than two months since Golladay’s electric NFL debut. He’s champing at the bit to return, especially with the Lions offense looking like it’s turned a corner in the past two weeks.
“It’s going to be amazing if everyone’s clicking. When I come in I have to come in and not slack. I have to come in and not look like I’ve lost a step or anything like that, so I have to be mentally prepared and be ready to do what they ask of me,” he said.
Despite the strides the offense has taken of late, it’s stumbled into some issues in the red zone. The hope is that Golladay, with his strong hands and 6’4 frame, can be a remedy. The first touchdown of his career came on a 10-yard lob pass that he high-pointed over a helpless cornerback.
Asked if he can contribute in the red zone, Golladay said, “Who knows? It’s tough, but at the same time we were still putting a few touchdowns up there. I don’t feel like we’re not doing anything because of me. I would never say anything like that.”
For Golladay, 24, his five-game absence was a new experience. He said he never missed that much time at Northern Illinois and leaned on the likes of Marvin Jones and Golden Tate to help him through the recovery process.
“I’m not the type of person just to get down on myself. Things like this do happen and I just have to roll with the punches and try to get right so I can get back our there on the field,” he said.
Golladay seemed to be nearing a return the past couple weeks, but said his hamstring “just wasn’t right.”
“It wasn’t time yet,” he added.
But after taking part in a full week of practice and speaking to reporters for the first time since his injury, it feels like the time is now.