Matthew Stafford will have more targets in his portfolio to keep the Lions fresh, however, the main question is how healthy is Burleson? Is the time right to rush his return and risk him for the playoffs?
In my opinion, the Lions have adjusted perfectly to life after Burleson with Kris Durham as the second receiver, in part because of the great chemistry Stafford and him have developed since their University of Georgia days. After the Lions defeated the Dallas Cowboys 31-30 three weeks ago, Stafford hit Durham on a decisive play down field and he said after the game, “He’s reliable.”
It turns out that Durham has been more than reliable for the Lions all year and he’s rapidly learned to step up as Stafford’s second-favorite target. He started the current season as the No. 4 receiver behind Ryan Broyles and he’s coming up with the big plays. When asked about his current role in the offense, he has been the first to admit that hard work and repetitions have helped him become a better player.
As the season unwinds in favor of the Lions, Jim Schwartz has a good problem to figure out. Even though the Lions have adjusted perfectly to life after Burleson, he is a great player and leader to have around. Detroit can always use an extra target for Stafford who’s been on fire lately, and the return of their veteran receiver can only make the Lions better.
Nate Burleson is a league veteran with secure hands and the necessary spark to ignite the crowd on every first down, but also brings a grand desire to win. The art of winning is not a tradition for the Lions and shall be celebrated loudly.