Nate Burleson Breaks Leg, Could Be Done in Detroit

Burleson breaks leg, could be done in Detroit

10/23/12 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - Nate Burleson Breaks Leg, Could Be Done in DetroitDetroit Lions' wide receiver Nate Burleson has been diagnosed with a broken leg and will undergo surgery that could sideline him for as many as eight months. This injury will result in an official audition for both second-year receiver Titus Young and rookie receiver Ryan Broyles to prove that they are worthy of being cemented into the receiving core. If they perform at a high level, the Lions very well may opt not to bring back Nate Burleson next year.

Due $4.5 million next season, the Lions may feel that Burleson is too pricey of a commodity if they already have their two young receivers producing at a high level. It would also be a risky $4.5 million to spend, as Burleson's injury is very serious and is his second serious leg injury - he tore his ACL in 2008. There's a chance that he could miss the entirety of offseason practices as well.

Burleson has put together an unorthodox career so far. His lone thousand-yard season came in his second year as a pro with the Vikings. He started only nine games the next season, totaling 328 yards, then signed with the Seahawks in 2006 where he was used primarily as a punt returner. He resurfaced as a receiving threat in 2009 with 63 catches for 812 yards, and signed with the Lions the following year. He set a career-high in receptions at the age of 30 with 73, but also posted a career low in yards per catch with 10.4.

It would be reasonable this summer for the Lions to cut a 32 year old receiver who was averaging only 8.9 yards per catch before breaking his leg, but once again, it all depends on the production of their two young replacements.

Titus Young, the 44th overall pick in the 2011 draft, had 48 catches as a rookie, and has had a disappointing season this year with only 17 catches through six games. However, he played much better in the absence of Burleson, catching six passes for 81 yards on Monday night.

2012 second-round pick Ryan Broyles, the NCAA's all-time leader in receptions, never had a catch in his young NFL career before Monday night, but finished with three catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

The Lions certainly expect Young and Broyles to form an electric receiving core along with Calvin Johnson, but we'll see if they can actually make it happen. If they do, Burleson may be on the open market next summer.
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