Kris Durham grabbed a suitcase last September, hopped on a plane in Seattle and has been in Detroit ever since.

This year, though, the Lions wide receiver is living in a townhouse instead of quarterback Matthew Stafford's house.

Durham's tale is a somewhat common one for hopeful NFL players, but what sets him apart from many others is how quickly he's become an integral part of one of the league's best offenses.

So far the 6-foot-6 Durham has 21 catches for 256 yards and a touchdown this season, but he was effectively the Lions’ No. 1 receiver for two games while Calvin Johnson (knee) was injured. In a Week 5 loss to the Packers with Johnson out, Durham had three catches for 30 yards and a score, and in a win over the Browns the following week with Johnson hobbled, Durham had career highs of eight catches and 83 yards.

Even with Johnson healthy in a loss to the Bengals last week, Durham still had eight targets and five catches for 41 yards.

"I think (my role) gives me a lot of confidence, but it also shows me that I have a lot of work to do," Durham said.

Drafted in the fourth round by the Seahawks in 2011, Durham played in just three games as a rookie before a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve that November. In August 2012, the Seahawks waived Durham, but he quickly found a home on the Lions practice squad.

When he came to Michigan, Durham moved in with Stafford, his college teammate at Georgia. As a practice squad member, Durham could have been signed by another team at a moment's notice, so the frugal move made the most sense. Former Bulldogs fullback Shaun Chapas also joined the Lions practice squad last September and lived with them, too.

"That was kind of surreal because we had joked about it," Durham said. "We had been like, 'Oh yeah, we're going to play together one day,' and we had all talked about it. For it to actually happen was kind of funny when we sat back and thought about it."

With injuries decimating the Lions receiving corps in 2012, Durham was promoted from the practice squad in Week 14. In four games, he had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown, but didn't do anything to secure a spot on the team in 2013.