MIKE O'HARA

Ryan Broyles feels good about where he stands on the road to recovery

Posted Jun 21, 2013

The entire offense will be more potent if opposing defenses have to focus on stopping players besides Calvin Johnson, when healthy, Broyles can attract some of that attention

The adage about a picture being worth a thousand words would sell Ryan Broyles short on how he feels about his progression in recovering from a second knee injury in two years.

Broyles was so encouraged about being on the path to recovery that he posted a picture on Twitter in February to show how good he felt about a key stage in his rehab program to return as a key member of the Lions' receiving corps.

The picture showed Broyles running in the hydrotherapy pool at the Lions' training center in Allen Park. It spoke volumes about how good he felt that day.

Ryan BroylesWR Ryan Broyles

"That was definitely a landmark," Broyles said after mini-camp.

Coming back from any injury is a step-by-step process, and they aren't all giant steps. Broyles had reason to feel good about where he stood after the Lions' three-day mandatory mini-camp.

Broyles took some important steps forward to be on the field for the first regular season game against the Vikings on Sept. 8.

Broyles participated more than anyone -- himself included -- could have anticipated in drills that concluded the supervised offseason workout program. It was barely more than six months since he sustained a torn ACL in his right knee on Dec. 2 against the Colts at Ford Field.

Broyles was painfully -- literally -- familiar with the rehabilitation process he faced. Broyles knew the routine well from coming back from tearing the ACL in his left knee late in the 2011 season at Oklahoma.

The Lions still drafted him in the second round, and Broyles was on the 53-player roster for the start of his 2012 rookie season. He showed promise, playing in 10 games after being inactive for the first two. He had 22 catches for 310 yards, two TDs and a 14.1-yard average per catch.

He had two six-catch games – against Jacksonville, and again against the Texans the week before he went out with the injury. He was injured early in the Colts game.

The first major step in his comeback this year was on Feb. 4, when he ran in the hydrotherapy pool. It may seem like a small step, but it's an important one for an athlete recovering from a major knee injury.

Broyles' Twitter photo appeared on detroitlions.com and was picked up by many national websites.

Posting the photo was a statement that Broyles was on the way back to being a valuable slot receiver for the Lions

"It is in water, but that was my first time actually running," Broyles said. "That's what I do for a living. It felt good.

"It was two months out (from the injury)."

Broyles structured his offseason to be in peak condition to start the season.

He and his wife, Mary Beth, took a brief vacation to the Dominican Republic after mini-camp.

After that, Broyles had scheduled a four-week training block at the Athletes Performance training center in Florida. He'll return home to Oklahoma for a brief vacation to get fresh before reporting to training camp in late July.

Broyles still has some hurdles to clear to be in the lineup at the start of the season, but he's on the right track.

"I don't have any prediction when he's going to be there," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said during mini-camp.

"He's made a lot of progress. He's out there now, and I don't see any reason why he's not going to continue to that progress."

If Broyles is healthy, he can improve the efficiency of a Lions offense that ranked third in the NFL last season with an average of 408.8 yards per game and was No. 2 in passing with an average of 307.9.

After Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford struggled to find a consistent receiving target. The position was depleted.

Nate Burleson went out for the season in the sixth game with a broken leg. Titus Young had behavior and performance issues and was released in February. Then Broyles got hurt. And tight end Brandon Pettigrew struggled through a down season with drops and fumbles.

Broyles had shown some promise before being injured in Game 13. He had 22 catches, a 14.1-yard average per catch and two touchdowns.

"You've got a slot receiver that was coming on real good for us," Linehan said.

As dominating as Johnson is, the entire offense will be more potent if opposing defenses have to focus on stopping other players. When healthy, Broyles can attraction some of that attention.

Picture that.