Jace Billingsley did plenty to impress the Lions during his stint on the practice squad last year, but after playing multiple positions in college, Billingsley remains a work in a progress as a wide receiver.
As such, Billingsley is one of seven first-year players among the 30 players currently under contract participating in this week’s rookie minicamp.
The Lions hold their final of five minicamp practices Sunday.
Billingsley played both running back and wide receiver at Eastern Oregon and is vying for a job as a slot receiver and return man this fall. He led the Lions with 12 catches for 146 yards in the preseason last year, and spent the final week of the regular season and the playoffs on the Lions’ 53-man roster but did not appear in a game.
Because he has not accrued a year of service time, Billingsley is eligible for this week’s rookie minicamp.
Punter Kasey Redfern, safeties Rolan Milligan and Charles Washington, linebackers Brandon Chubb and Steve Longa, and offensive tackle Pierce Burton also are taking part in minicamp this week.
Washington, Chubb and Longa also spent part of last season on the Lions’ practice squad, while Milligan and Burton signed futures deals with the team this off-season.
Along with getting a first look at the Lions’ nine draft picks, their 14 undrafted rookies and other tryout guys, Lions coach Jim Caldwell said this week’s camp is an important evaluation for players like Billingsley on the roster bubble.
“They’re eligible, so anybody that’s eligible we utilize because that’s five extra practices getting a guy ready,” Caldwell said. “That’s valuable time, extremely valuable. We utilize every, single opportunity we get to get our guys better. We’re limited in terms of what we can do from a rules standpoint. When you have an opportunity to get a few guys a few more reps you better use them.”
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