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Lions reassured by Broyles, Burleson

8/2/2013

Depth among the Detroit Lions' receiving corps was one of our most consistent late-summer topics, so I would excuse those of you who got jumpy when word broke Friday morning that free agent Chad Johnson (AKA Ochocinco) was at their training camp. You never know, after all, when the Lions might decide they need extra help.

Johnson, of course, was in town for family reasons and was merely a training camp guest. He hasn't played in the NFL since the Miami Dolphins released him last summer, and if the Lions decide to search for further depth, he isn't likely to be atop their list.

Still, the news ripple affords us a chance to check in on the Lions' receivers after a week of training camp. To this point, the news has been almost all good. Most importantly, veterans Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles -- both of whom are working back from leg injuries that ended their 2012 seasons -- have not missed a rep.

Broyles' performance has been exceptionally notable, providing a level of assurance that the Lions will have a well-functioning group around Calvin Johnson when the season begins. Broyles is about eight months removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee.

"Sometimes we tend to lose sight of where he is with the ACL and the rehab," Lions coach Jim Schwartz told reporters after Thursday's practice. "He's much farther ahead than where he was last year and he really came on last year. It’s tough. You're not going to feel great every day. There are going to be some days where you're out here and you're trying to push through. Our trainers do a good job at managing him and he does a very good job of rehabbing. [Wednesday] we had a day off and I think there's no coincidence that Ryan was able to come out here [Thursday] and make some plays."

It's worth noting that Broyles' most recent ACL tear came a month later on the calendar than the one he suffered in his final season at Oklahoma, once again demonstrating that every ACL tear is different. The Lions worked him into their lineup slowly last season; he didn't appear in a game until Week 3 or make a catch until Week 7.

At this point, there appears to be no concerns about immediate availability for either him or Burleson. That leaves the Lions in a more comfortable position of evaluating depth for their No. 4 position and beyond, a group that includes Mike Thomas, Chaz Schilens, Patrick Edwards and Kris Durham. No need to add Chad Johnson to that list.