When a player gets to the age of 31, like receiver
“When you are old you can’t afford to (miss any reps),” Burleson said. “I look at practice like hitting the weight room. If I miss a day I’m going to get weaker.”
In fact, Burleson said he’s stronger than he was this time last year and has also gained a step by losing 10 pounds this offseason. He’s currently at 194 pounds after playing last season at 205.
“I figured that if I gained weight I would solidify myself as a slot receiver the rest of my career,” Burleson said. “If I lose a little bit of weight and show my agility and my speed, I can still have the versatility to help this team on the outside. That’s why you see me running so many go routes and fades in one-on-one’s.”
The fact that Burleson is making plays deep down the field on a daily basis hasn’t gone unnoticed by Lions coaches either, particularly head coach Jim Schwartz.
“He’s gotten deep a lot more than I remember him in camp,” Schwartz said after practice Tuesday. “He’s made a lot more plays down the field. He’s moving well. He’s a veteran player and knows how to get open.
“There’s an old adage that as you get older as a player, you drop a little bit of weight to keep your quickness. He’s had a good camp.”
The extra work Burleson put in this offseason - which included a better diet, lifting weights harder and running more - wasn’t just about gaining speed for Burleson. He watches the NFL Draft just like everyone else and he’s noticed the Lions receivers' room getting more crowded the past two seasons with the additions of second-round picks
“It’s a huge motivating factor,” Burleson said of the team drafting Young and Broyles. “Scott (Linehan) the other day said, ‘Man, you’re looking really good. You are moving a lot faster.’ He said ‘It’s not that we didn’t like you the last couple years but this year you are looking faster than ever.’
“I told him that I lost about 10 pounds and on top of that I’m motivated by Titus Young and by Broyles – these picks. Most guys would see that as a threat. For me, I just see it as a push to show how good I am.”
Burleson had a career-high 73 catches last year, but his 10.4 average per catch was the lowest of his nine-year career. By dropping the weight and adding the speed, Burleson is hopeful we’ll see more plays behind coverage and not in front of it.
A more explosive Burleson certainly gives the Lions more options in what they can do offensively in both the slot and on the outside. It even allows them more flexibility to move
“I’m always saying, ‘let me run a nine, let me show you I can run past somebody,’” Burleson said of his approach to practice. “And it’s all strategic to show these guys – not that I’m better than anyone else – but that I can do all the things that everyone else can do.
“On top of that, I have to prove to the team that I’m durable and productive, so going out every day and scoring touchdowns is a confidence builder for me and hopefully it instills confidence in everybody else.”