NOTEBOOK: Burleson talks return; Lions sign DE; Stafford gives Reiff a hard time and more

Posted Nov 5, 2013

Nate Burleson is eager to back on the playing field but will listen to the advice of coaches, trainers and doctors on this one

Nate Burleson joked that he had to reintroduce himself to some teammates on the practice field Tuesday.

For the first time since breaking his arm in a car accident Sept. 24, the veteran receiver had his helmet on and participated in practice.

Burleson broke his forearm in an early-morning car crash just two days after catching six passes for 116 yards in a win at Washington. He had surgery soon after and has missed the team’s last five games.

But head coach Jim Schwartz was quick to caution reporters not to look too much into Burleson’s return to the practice field as it related to any possible playing status Sunday in Chicago.

"He is progressing well and everybody is pleased with his progression," Schwartz said. "We all know how tough of a guy Nate is. If it were up to him, he probably would have missed one game.

"There is only so much you can do with healing bones and stuff. I think the big thing with Nate is when we do get him back, we’re going to get him back, but we want to make sure he is back for good. To do that, we have to avoid setbacks and stuff like that."

Burleson has been targeting a second-half return since the injury occurred, but says he’ll be careful and listen to the advice of the medical personnel.

"I’ve been itching to get back on the field since I banged my arm up but it’s up to the trainers and doctors," Burleson said when asked about his status for Sunday. "I have to be smart. If it was up to me, I’d go out and risk it, but that’s not necessarily the right thing to do always."

When Burleson ultimately returns to game action will come down to when he gets medical clearance for contact.

The fact that the Lions have been getting production out of their receiving corps without him over the last five games does allow them to be a little more careful determining his return date. Even with a crucial NFC North matchup on the docket.

Burleson is wearing a protective Kevlar brace over the forearm for even more protection.

"I’m not going to sit here and talk over what is common sense, and that’s listening to my coaches and the doctors," Burleson said. "I want to play and that’s just me being a competitor, that doesn’t mean that my arm is ready to be out there for 60 minutes.

"I’m going to talk with the coaches and talk with the trainers and talk with the doctors and figure out if this week, next week or the week after is best for me.

"What I do know is I’m feeling good. My legs feel great. I feel fast and I’m catching the ball."

That’s all good news from a Lions perspective.


The Lions have added some depth and a little bit of insurance to their defensive line on Tuesday, agreeing to terms on a one-year with defensive end Austen Lane.

The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder recorded 32 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble last season in seven starts for Jacksonville.

He was most recently with the Kansas City Chiefs but was cut in training camp.

The Lions are currently shorthanded at the position. Starter Ziggy Ansah did not practice Tuesday after injuring an ankle against Dallas Oct. 27. He was in a walking boot on Tuesday.

The team already lost Jason Jones earlier in the season to ruptured patella tendon.

Detroit released tackle Barry Richardson to make room for Lane on the 53-man roster.


Some Bears fans might have thought all was lost when quarterback Jay Cutler torn a groin muscle a couple weeks ago. Veteran backup Josh McCown, however, has played well in Cutler’s place.

He was 22-for-41 for 272 yards, with two touchdowns and a 90.7 passer rating in guiding the Bears to a 27-20 victory over Green Bay on Monday night-- their first win in Green Bay since 2007.

"I know (Josh) McCown has looked good," Schwartz said. "Number one he is a good athlete and he can make you pay scrambling. He’s an 11-year vet.

"We have a lot of respect for what McCown has done the last couple of games, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has over a 100 quarterback rating.

On the season, McCown has converted on 36-of-61 throws for 476 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

"I think both guys have similar skillsets," Schwartz said of McCown and Cutler. "They run the same plays on offense. You’re not talking about a completely different change in styles or anything else. I think that it pretty much is what it is when it comes to that."


Riley Reiff can laugh about it now, although you could tell his late-game gaffe against Dallas was still bothering him.

Reiff thought the Lions had scored on Calvin Johnson’s catch with less than 30 seconds left and was headed to the sideline because he isn’t on the extra point protection team, but when he finally realized Johnson hadn’t scored, he had to sprint down the field in order to get lined up for Stafford to take the last snap.

Reiff was asked how fast he was running to get back into formations in 40-yard dash terms, running back Reggie Bush shouted "4.3" from his nearby locker with a big smile on is face.

"It wasn’t that fast," Reiff said.

The whole incident was caught on tape as Matthew Stafford was wearing a microphone for NFL Films.

"My voice was terrible," Stafford said of his high-pitched screams to Reiff. "I was pissed off at Riley (Reiff) for being all the way down the field. At the same time, watching the clock tick away, I was a little nervous.

"We laugh about it. Blame it on him. I don’t know why I was yelling at him, he was 40 yards away from me; he’s not going to hear me. I was not too happy at that point with where he was on the field, but he hustled his ass off and I give him some credit."

Reiff said he’s playing along with the jokes from teammates, but it certainly was a learning experience.

"It really isn’t funny," he said. "It could have cost us the game."

He does, however, plan to give Stafford some grief for how high his voice got on the tape.


Jason Jones got off crutches two weeks ago and is hoping to be 100 percent shortly after the season concludes. Jones ruptured his patellar tendon Week 3 in Washington and was lost for the season.

Jones said it was good to rejoin the locker room and it’s helped with his rehab being around his teammates in Allen Park.

"It’s just good to be around these guys and it’s motivation for me," Jones said. "I’m just glad I can be a motivator to some of the young guys."

Jones said he is ahead of schedule in his rehab.


--The Lions released RB Steven Miller and signed TE Martell Webb (Michigan) to the practice squad