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Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Broyles and normalizing ACL recovery

By Kevin Seifert

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- I hope everyone enjoyed Wednesday's live blog from Detroit Lions camp. (This mosquito probably didn't, but such is life.) Feel free to scroll through the live blog module to find my observations and photos from a rainy day at practice.

For now, however, I want to point out that perhaps the most interesting part of the morning was the absence of a player from practice. Indeed, receiver Ryan Broyles took his first day off since the start of camp. That might seem to be an odd observation, but keep in mind that Broyles had participated in each of the Lions' first 10 practices of camp -- one that opened a few days short of eight months after he tore the ACL in his right knee.

Ryan Broyles
Detroit Lions receiver Ryan Broyles didn't practice on Wednesday, his first absence of training camp after tearing his ACL in December.
Broyles has in essence split time in camp in the slot with veteran Nate Burleson, while Calvin Johnson and usually Patrick Edwards pair up on the outside in three-receiver sets. But it is pretty clear that Broyles is far ahead of where he was last summer in his recovery from ACL surgery on his left knee, and it would be surprising if he weren't ready for full time duty when the regular season begins.

"This is my second one and I knew what to expect," Broyles said. "And my right knee has healed faster than my left."

In the end, though, I think what we're seeing is the normalization of offseason ACL recovery. Broyles suffered the injury on December 2, 2012 and was healthy enough by mod-June to participate in three consecutive days of minicamp. Doctors cleared him to practice at the start of camp and he said he has had no setbacks since then.

A year ago at this time, we were hailing the remarkable speed with which Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson returned from two torn ligaments in his knee. Broyles has followed a similar timeframe, as has Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and others. An ACL injury at the end of one season no longer has to impact the start of another, it seems.

There was one significant difference in Broyles' pair of recoveries. He rushed the early part of this 2012 rehabilitation so that he could participate in the NFL's pre-draft combine and later in private workouts.

"I was a rookie and I had to show what I had," he said. "This time, I had a little bit more rest, so I think that helped."

I'll be interested to see how the Lions mix their personnel in three-receiver set now that Broyles and Burleson (leg) have both demonstrated that they are healthy. Both are working in the slot and could stay there if Edwards can lock down an outside spot. Burleson sounded very confident that that will happen during our live chat earlier Wednesday, and in the end I'm sure the Lions will get their best receivers on the field most often regardless of what position they have been working at in training camp.

Either way, that's a good problem to have -- one that wouldn't be possible were it not for Broyles' swift recovery.

"Your body heals differently," Broyles said. "My right knee is healing differently than my left. I'm kind of surprised but it's all good."