ChatWrap: On Brandon Pettigrew

Tuesday's SportsNation chat took us through a number of NFC North topics, including whether there is hope for Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew to have a career year. Here is the relevant exchange:

Johnny (Detroit)

Do you think Pettigrew will ever solve his drop problems? He is always open because of Calvin Johnson and the Lions need him to be good to have a truly elite offense.

Kevin Seifert (2:49 PM)

Apparently he has worked very hard this offseason to get ready for this contract year. It's weird. He makes a lot of really difficult plays but then has trouble holding onto the ball. Overall, he might just be a guy who drops some passes every now and then.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Disagree about Pettigrew..a 4 yard pass to him was basically replacing a run. Think Broyles and Bush will be main targets in the middle...

Kevin Seifert (2:51 PM)

Or, they'll just use the running game instead of replacing the run.

Indeed, the Lions used Pettigrew in a short passing game designed to replicate the results of a good running game last season. If newcomer Reggie Bush has the desired impact, the Lions won't need to use Pettigrew quite as often. But that is a separate issue from his drops, which as we noted earlier this offseason, rank among the NFL leaders over the past three seasons.

During my visit to Lions camp last week, at least one teammate was bullish on Pettigrew's capacity for taking the next step.

"I think that Pettigrew is going to have a career year," receiver Nate Burleson said. "In my mind he is one of the top five tight ends in the league. … A lot of people talk to me in the offseason and said 'Grew caught the ball, I guess, not so well lasts season. I beg to differ. Occasionally he might drop a ball, but when it comes to hands, he's a very reliable target. … He's going to go out there and show exactly how talented he is. … I can guarantee you this: He's going to perform at a higher level than you've ever seen him perform in a Detroit Lions uniform."

So there's that, which is nice.