Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson returned to practice last week, but the Lions decided to hold Burleson out of the rivalry game against the Chicago Bears as a precaution. Burleson seems to be fully recovered from the broken arm he suffered in that famed car/pizza accident shortly after his 100-yard performance in Week 3. He was limited in practice yesterday and is steadily increasing his practice reps, but both Burleson and the Lions are making it clear that they are going to take the cautious route with the arm injury; they don’t need this to be a repeat of what Rob Gronkowski went through.
That’s why ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s report that the Lions don’t “plan to play” Nate Burleson this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn’t come as a big surprise. Burleson is healthy enough to play that he could most definitely play if the Lions needed him to, but the Lions don’t need Burleson to return; they can let him take his time and recover fully. The Lions should be able to defeat the Steelers without Burleson, and there’s not much point in playing him the week after against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He should be healthy enough to play against Tampa, but the theme here is caution. Why on earth would the Lions play Burleson against a team as bad as the Buccaneers when they have a short week game against a division rival the game after?
Yes, it isn’t inconceivable to think that the Lions will hold out Burleson until the Thanksgiving matchup against the Green Bay Packers, because it’s an absolutely huge game for this team. The Lions clearly want to take things as slowly as possible with Burleson, and they shouldn’t feel burdened to play him this week or next week against Tampa.