Nate Burleson says Patrick Edwards "will be a big-time player" this year

Posted May 31, 2013

Second-year WR Patrick Edwards is seen as a player with big potential

Patrick EdwardsWR Patrick Edwards (Photo:

The Lions have been on the lookout all offseason for a receiver who could spread the field opposite Calvin Johnson.

They've brought in prospective free agents and drafted Corey Fuller in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in April.

Veteran receiver Nate Burleson thinks that player has been on the roster the whole time, though.

"Patrick Edwards is playing hell of some ball right now," Burleson said of the second-year receiver who spent time on the Lions practice squad last year before going on injured reserve with a leg injury.

"He was my dark horse last year before he tweaked his hamstring and he's not so much a dark horse now."

Edwards was impressive during the three-day rookie minicamp earlier in May and has transitioned that right into OTAs with the veterans.

He was the 2011 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year with 89 receptions, 1,752 yards, 20 touchdowns and a 19.7 average per catch. His last two seasons at Houston, he also averaged 15.4 and 14.0 yards per punt return, respectively.

"He's just a guy that needs to prove he can stay healthy and consistent with his play and I guarantee you he'll be a big-time player with us this year," Burleson said.

Edwards was terrific in training camp last season. It seemed like almost a daily occurrence that he would make a big play in practice. But then when it came to the preseason games, he disappeared.

Edwards caught four passes for 31 yards in four preseason games in 2012. He was part of the final cuts after the preseason, but was signed to the practice squad before being injured.

Burleson said Edwards has the potential to fit into the vacant slot left by the release of Titus Young this offseason.

"I don't want to draw any comparisons to him and Titus (Young) in too many ways, but they are similar in the fact that they both catch the ball very well and are very explosive," Burleson said.

"(Edwards) can catch an underneath ball and turn it up field for 50 yards or he can run past you and catch a nine-route over your head. And that's the type of guy we need. A guy that can balance out this receiving corps with Calvin, myself, the tight ends we have and of course Reggie (Bush) in the backfield."

Edwards is only 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, but he's almost exclusively played the outside spot for the Lions over the last year.

"I don't think size is so much an issue anymore," Burleson said. "Yeah, everybody would love to create a player like Calvin Johnson, but if you have a smaller guy who's just as explosive and can catch the ball, he can be just as damaging to defenses."