Return to roots
St. Rita, product Golladay back in town as key receiver for Lions
Lions coach Matt Patricia said this week that wide receiver Kenny Golladay’s skill set has “improved drastically” in his second season in the NFL.
On Sunday when the Lions arrive at Soldier Field for the first of two meetings with the Bears in 12 days, Golladay will try to showcase that growth in front of his hometown fans.
Golladay, a graduate of St. Rita High School, became quarterback Matthew Stafford’s leading receiver when the Lions traded Golden Tate to the Eagles on Oct. 30. His 33 catches for 523 yards over eight games put him ahead of the production of deep threat Marvin Jones and running back Theo Riddick.
And that has the Bears’ attention.
“He’s a really good receiver with or without Tate there,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday. “Tall guy who can run, big catch radius and they want to get him the ball. He is a really good receiver.”
Out of high school, Golladay first played at North Dakota before transferring to Northern Illinois, where he became the first player in school history with back-to-back 1,000yard receiving seasons.
The 6- foot- 4, 213pounder was a Lions third-round pick in 2017, and he had 28 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season.
The offseason improvement Patricia spoke about showed up this year when he had 27 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns over his first five games. But as opponents have focused on stopping him, Golladay has just six catches on seven targets for 95 yards over the Lions’ last three games.
That includes three catches for 46 yards Sunday against the Vikings in the first game since Tate was traded.
“Early in the year itwas good to have his production and good for him to see some of the things he saw from different defenses.” Patricia said Wednesday on a confer- ence call with Chicago reporters. “Like we talk (about) all the time, as seasons go on and coverages change and teams change and there’s a little bit more film out there that teams study and kind of take a look at you, the season gets harder.
“And it gets harder when you’re a player teams are looking at and trying to figure out, you know, what is this guy and how does he play? He just has to continue to learn and grow, continue to develop. It’s part of the process.”
But Patricia sees Golladay working daily to continue that development.
“The best thing for me with Kenny is that his work ethic is outstanding,” Patricia said.
“He comes in every single day and works hard to try to improve. He understands he’s a young player and there’s a lot of this game he needs to learn. And that’s what he does. He just attacks it. Every single day. In an effort to try to get better.”
St. Rita and NIU product Kenny Golladay leads the Lions with 33 catches this season after having 28 as a rookie last year.