WR Ryan Broyles takes part in team drills for first time since ACL injury

Posted Jun 11, 2013

Broyles is less than six months removed from ACL surgery, but watching him Tuesday, one might have confused him for being eight or nine months out

Late in Tuesday's first Lions mini-camp practice, second-year receiver Ryan Broyles lined up in the left slot during a team period. At the snap, he ran across the field, sure to navigate his way behind the linebackers, and caught a pass from quarterback Kellen Moore on the other side of the field. He then turned up field and sprinted down the right sideline toward the end zone.
Ryan BroylesWR Ryan Broyles

A few players later, Broyles did the same thing from the right slot, with the same result -- catching a pass across the field and sprinting to the end zone, this time, down the left sideline.

The only surprising part about that sequence of plays was the fact that Broyles was on the field at all for team drills. He's less than six months removed from ACL surgery, but watching him Tuesday, one might have confused him for being eight or nine months out.

"He looked pretty good," said quarterback Matthew Stafford. "I didn't know he was going to be going today. I think it was kind of a last-minute decision for him. I think he felt pretty good and made some plays, which is a positive sign for us."

Broyles didn't do any team work last spring during the offseason and began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list after suffering a torn ACL during his senior season at Oklahoma.

He suffered a torn ACL in the other knee as a rookie Dec. 2 vs. the Indianapolis Colts. His surgery took place two weeks later than it did the first time around in college, yet, there was Broyles, running routes, catching passes and participating in team drills in mini-camp Tuesday.

"Yeah, he's had a great rehab," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Broyles. "He's working really hard. He's done a little bit more each time and he's really the only one of that group that's on a long-term rehab.

"It's been a long time for him, second year in a row with an ACL. But, you know, every time he's gone out on the field he's made plays and he did the same thing today.

"He's still not 100-percent, but he's able to sort of pick and choose some spots in practice and he looked good."

Broyles' importance to the Lions offense this season shouldn't be understated. He was just starting to come on last year before his injury and the Lions are counting on his keen ability to find open areas in the middle of the defense as a big weapon for them this season. They're still on the lookout for that No. 2 outside Calvin Johnson, and Broyles could be it.

"I think you saw some of that late in the year last year before he got hurt," Stafford said. "He had a really big game against Houston (six catches for 126 yards) and had some big catches on third down against Jacksonville, too. He's a guy who can be a chain-mover, at the same time can be explosive."

Broyles didn't dress in a game until Week 2 last year and said he didn't feel 100 percent until Week 5.

He still has some road to travel to get to 100 percent, but if Tuesday is any indication, it may not be as long a journey as last year.