Detroit Lions No. 2 wide receiver Nate Burleson is expected to play in this week’s rivalry game against the Chicago Bears, and that expectation has only strengthened with the encouraging news that Burleson was able to return to practice today. A return following last week’s bye was the initial projected return date for Burleson, who broke his arm shortly after the Lions Week 3 game against Washington. It was reported last week by ESPN’s Christ Mortensen that the expectation is for Burleson to make his return against the Bears, but it sounds like he isn’t a lock to play. Or it could just be a smokescreen.
Per Lions official site beat writer Tim Twentyman, head coach Jim Schwartz stated that we need to be careful not to draw too many conclusions following Burleson’s return to the practice field today. Schwartz said that “there are still some hurdles” that Burleson will need to get over in order to play this week, which is certainly an interesting statement given the importance of this week’s game (Jay Cutler could even be back for the Bears) and the fact that Burleson seems to be perfectly on track.
This could very well be a smokescreen from Schwartz, who could just be looking to get a competitive advantage over the Bears. I’m not too keen on that kind of speculation, though, because the last time I stated that the Lions were smokescreening a rival by being cautious with an injury to their star receiver, Calvin Johnson was a surprise inactive against the Green Bay Packers. Monitor this situation closely, and I believe that we should tentatively expect Burleson to play this week but also need to avoid giving him “lock” status.