Of all the rookies who started opening week, none had as unlikely
a road to the NFL as Lions tight end Casey Fitzsimmons. Four
years ago, when he reported for his freshman year at NAIA Carroll
College in Helena, Mont., he was a promising recruit though he'd
played only eight-man football in the northern Montana town of
Chester (pop. 871). "Two tight ends, two backs, two guards, a
center and a quarterback," the 6'3", 252-pound Fitzsimmons says.
"It's a really fast game on a smaller field."
Fitzsimmons caught a few scouts' eyes with 78 receptions during
his senior year at Carroll, and Detroit signed him as a free
agent. He made an impact on special teams, and he climbed past
three other players on the depth chart to start in a
two-tight-end set against the Cardinals on Sept. 7. The following
week against the Packers, he made his first NFL reception,
hauling in two passes for 18 yards, and against the 49ers on
Sunday he had two catches for 22 yards.