Camp Notebook: What a difference a year makes for Ryan Broyles; Secondary making plays

Posted Jul 27, 2013

Tim Twentyman on Ryan Broyles' progress, CB Ron Bartell's injury and other observations from Lions' camp

Last year, during the second practice of training camp, Ryan Broyles was coming off the physically unable to perform list with a torn ACL and working exclusively in individual drills.

What a difference a year makes.

Ryan BroylesWR Ryan Broyles

Now he's coming off another ACL injury in the other knee, but it's been a completely different healing process.

Broyles knew what to expect this time around. He was also able to rest the knee more, not having to go through the draft process, and had the benefit of a world-class training facility and rehabilitation staff the NFL can provide.

The difference ... this year during day two of camp, Broyles was making catches across the middle of the field with the first-team offense in team drills.

"It's my second ACL," Broyles said. "My first one I didn't know what to expect. I knew what I was lacking last year at this time, so I worked on those things, and it kind of helped with getting back faster."

Broyles' rehab has been remarkable, really. He tore the ACL Dec. 2 in a game vs. Indianapolis and was already participating fully in mini-camp in mid-June, just six-and-a-half months later.

That's significant because the Lions need a receiver (not named Calvin Johnson) to be a factor in the offense this year. Broyles, along with veteran Nate Burleson, are the most likely candidates to fill the role.

Broyles says there is still a plan in place for him so he doesn't overdo it, but he's having fun being a big part of the offense to begin this training camp.

"It's very exciting," he said. "They are still going to bring me along at an even pace during camp, and that's expected, but it's very exciting coming off two ACLs and still being able to participate and be out here with these guys."


It's been noticeable how much the secondary has been able to get their hands on footballs these first two days.

Saturday, in particular, it seemed the football found the ground more than anytime in recent history during a two-hour practice.

"The secondary looks good," Burleson said. "They are a lot taller than year's past. They are a lot more athletic and rangy. They are getting their hands on a lot of balls, which is different than years past.

"I'm not going to talk about our defense, but there were times in years past where we would just go weeks and they wouldn't get their hands on ball and wouldn't get interceptions. We were just clicking offensively. It's a lot different now."


Cornerback Ron Bartell left practice Saturday after an awkward landing on his right shoulder. Head coach Jim Schwartz said after practice he'd undergo more tests to determine the extent of the injury.

"He wasn't able to finish practice," Schwartz said. "At first it looked like he was going to. He sort of landed on it a little funny. We'll get it tested today, but it's probably too early to tell.

"He wasn't in a whole lot of discomfort, but shoulders can be a little bit funny. He hadn't had shoulder injuries in the past so we'll just have to wait and see on that one."

Bartell has been working with the first-team defense opposite Chris Houston dating back to the spring.

Rookie Darius Slay replaced him in the lineup.


Kickers David Akers and Havard Rugland took part in a team field goal period for the first time in camp. Each player had four kicks from varying hash marks from 35 to 39 yards out.

Akers, who was kicking in front of the media for the first time since the Lions signed him back in April, made all four of his attempts and split the upright on all four.

Rugland (a.k.a. Kickalicious) made three of four attempts, missing one left from 37 yards.

David AkersK David Akers

It should be noted that both kickers showed very good strength in their left leg.

"I think it's probably the first time in NFL history that we signed a 38-year-old and we got younger at a position," Schwartz joked of signing Akers after the 42-year-old Jason Hanson retired in April.


Chaz Schilens, WR

Schilens, 27, has been steady the first two days of camp and is certainly making an early case for playing time. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound veteran has soft hands and has caught almost everything that's been thrown his way these first couple days.

Saturday, he made a catch deep down the left sideline and then came back later in practice and caught a 25-yard pass over the middle of the field on a crossing route and turned it into a 50-yard gain.


Guard Leroy Harris and receiver Devin Thomas remain on PUP. Defensive end Ronnell Lewis is still on NFI.

Joining that group on the sidelines during practice was linebacker Carmen Messina (hamstring) and safety Louis Delmas (knee).

Delmas is expected to return to the practice field Sunday when the team is in full pads for the first time.