Schwartz: "The next guy has to step up"

Posted Sep 24, 2013

Head coach Jim Schwartz says everyone from receivers to tight ends to running backs will have to step up to help fill the void left by Burleson

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said he spoke with Nate Burleson this morning, following Burleson's single-car accident on 1-696 that resulted in the 11-year veteran breaking both bones in his forearm.

He said his receiver was justifiably feeling down.

"Understandably his spirits are low," Schwartz said. "He was down. He just came off his best performance as a Lion and his best performance since, I think, 2007. He was just getting in to the swing of things. He was a big part of our offense.

"He's certainly down. The one thing about Nate is Nate is a really really tough guy. He's been through a lot in his career. He was our Ed Block Courage Award Winner. For just other things that he has dealt, he has had season-ending injuries, he had a situation last year and he has persevered through all of it and has continued to play at a high level.

"We certainly expect him to do the same here. We have a lot of confidence in his ability to do that."

Burleson had six catches for 116 yards in Sunday's 27-20 win in Washington, the most yards he's had in a game since 2007.

He is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, according to Schwartz, and not today, which the team's initial statement released this morning said.

"It's not an emergency surgery," Schwartz said. "It's not a compound fracture or anything else. We want to make sure that he gets it fixed and fixed well.

"The same surgeon will do it that did his knee last year. We have a lot of confidence and he has a lot of confidence in that doctor."

Schwartz called Burleson's injury "a little setback for our team" and added it's now time for the next player in line to make plays and fill the void.

"Just like not having Reggie (Bush) on Sunday, the next guy has to step up," Schwartz said. "We are prepared to do that as a team. Nate will be back at some point. When he will, he will be a big contributor again to our team."

The Lions have no plans right now to place Burleson on season-ending injured reserve, according to Schwartz, and will wait until after his surgery to make any further determination on that.

The team has already used its short-term IR designation on running back Montell Owens, so that's not an option.

The Lions have made inquiries to other teams about a possible trade, according to sources, but will also need players like Ryan Broyles, Patrick Edwards and Kris Durham to step in Burleson's absence.

Edwards missed last week's game in Washington because of an ankle injury, but Schwartz said he was "trending up".

Broyles was active for the first time this year in Washington as he climbs the ladder back to 100 percent health from that torn ACL suffered last December.

"I think that it doesn't just have to begin and end with our wide receivers," Schwartz said of the added contributions the Lions will need.

"I think our tight ends can contribute more. I think our running backs can contribute more. I think all those are important parts of this. He will be missed. He'll be back and we won't miss a beat."

Schwartz expects Burleson to be around the team and in the locker room and that's good news. Burleson is one of the team leaders and a terrific voice in the meeting room.

"He'll travel with the team," Schwartz said. "We will be fine there. We won't miss that presence. We'll miss his presence on the field. It's up to the other 52 guys to pick that up and we can do it."