LIONS INSIDER

Lions will fill Burleson's role by committee

Posted Oct 25, 2012

The Lions signed Brian Robiskie to take Burleson’s spot on the roster, but the job of filling Burleson’s shoes starting Sunday vs. Seattle will fall on a committee of players, says head coach Jim Schwartz.

The Lions officially ended receiver Nate Burleson’s season Wednesday by placing the 10-year veteran on injured reserve after he suffered a broken right leg Monday.

The team signed Brian Robiskie to take Burleson’s spot on the roster, but the job of filling Burleson’s shoes starting Sunday vs. Seattle will fall on a committee of players, says head coach Jim Schwartz.

“We’ll spread that around,” Schwartz said after Wednesday's walkthrough practice. “We’re not just going to plug one guy into Nate’s role. It’s going to be Titus (Young) in some ways and (Ryan) Broyles in others. It’s going to be (TE) Tony Scheffler in other ones. There will be increased opportunity for those guys, those are all good players.”

Burleson’s loss isn’t just about numbers, though those were pretty good this season, too. He was the team’s second-leading receiver this season with 27 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns.

What he meant in the locker room and in the receivers meeting room from a veteran leadership standpoint will be missed even more.

“Nate means a lot to us and will continue to in the future,” Schwartz said.

The Lions are now relying on a second-year and rookie receiver to help take some of the pressure of Calvin Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

“One of the few bright spots coming out of that (Chicago) game was the fact that Titus had a little bit of a breakout game and Broyles got his first catch, got his first touchdown," Schwartz said.

Young had six catches for 81 yards in the loss to the Bears. Broyles caught three passes, including a 12-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Lions’ only score of the game.

Young and Broyles were each second-round picks the last two seasons. The Lions had big expectations for Young heading into the season, but he’s had a slow start while dealing with a sore knee. He’s been feeling better of late though, and the Lions are hoping Monday is a sign of things to come.

As for Broyles, he’s 11 months removed from ACL surgery and is nearly at that one-year mark when doctors told him he’d be 100 percent. The team is hoping His performance at Chicago was the step forward he needed to put the injury behind him for good.

“I think after the bye week we never really even considered him an injured guy anymore," Schwartz said of Broyles.

"We haven’t limited his practice time. He very rarely even wears a sleeve out on his knee at practice. We just view him as one of the other guys.

"He had to work through training camp, just like all our ACL guys, when Pettigrew had his and the other guys have had there’s, we’ve had to sort of get them through training camp. But after we got to the season, particularly when we got that four, five days rest during the bye week, I think that was very beneficial for him. We’re only seeing the beginning of Ryan Broyles.

“Titus is a very talented player and he can make a lot of plays for us also.”

Burleson’s absence will give Young, Broyles, and even Scheffler, more chances to make plays and potentially give a boost to a Lions offense struggling to score. But Broyles knows he has some big shoes to fill.

“He talks the talk and he walks the walk, so he's definitely a guy we looked toward to come in everyday and set the tempo,” Broyles said of Burleson in his blog on Detroitlions.com. “He's been doing that for us. With him going down, especially me a slot behind him, he's really set the tone for me to come in and work hard.”