With OTAs in full force for the Detroit Lions, fans are anxious to see what the new look team has in store for the 2013 NFL season. Last week, fans and several teammates, were surprised by the early return of wide receiver Nate Burleson.
The Lions’ number two receiver has not been in action since a leg injury in a 2012 game versus the Chicago Bears. Prior to the injury, Burleson had 27 receptions for 240 yards. In his six games, Burleson had two touchdowns and was averaging 40 yard per game. After losing Burleson, the Lions were left with a huge hole to fill and relied heavily on number one receiver Calvin Johnson instead.
Johnson broke the single season receiving record. Aside from Johnson, the majority of passes were thrown to running backs and tight ends. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew finished second on the team with 567 yards, while fellow tight end Tony Scheffler ranked third with 504 yards. Titus Young and Ryan Broyles had 383 yards and 310 yards respectively. This ranked them number two and three among receivers, but only fifth and sixth overall on the team. Burleson was on pace for 640 yards, which would have been second on the team.
Burleson has been working out with the first squad team and shows little sign of an injury. Head coach Jim Schwartz had this to say, “He’s had a great rehab and we expected that from Nate.” The Lions will be ready to welcome back Burleson. With teams focusing more on Calvin, Burleson will see single coverage the majority of the games.
A solid number two receiver, Burleson has been impressive in his time in Detroit. The former third round pick of the Minnesota Vikings has played 36 games for the Lions. In 2010, he had 55 receptions for 625 yards, scoring six touchdowns and averaging 44.6 yards per game. In 2011, Burleson played in all 16 games, and had 73 receptions for 757 yards. Burleson scored three times and averaged 47.3 yards per game.
Burleson will also be happy to playing with new teammate Reggie Bush. Burleson was one of the key recruiting tools of the Lions. Burleson pleaded on national television for Bush to come to Detroit and also restructured his contract to free up salary cap space.