Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson has been practicing for a couple of weeks now, and there was initially some buzz that he would return from his broken arm in time to face the rival Chicago Bears. But the Lions clarified during that week of practice that Burleson would not play, and it became clear that the Lions just wanted to ease their veteran, No. 2 wideout into things. Adding Burleson back to the Lions offense will only make them more deep and explosive, and it gives star QB Matthew Stafford another target to throw it to. While he and Calvin Johnson have once again been hooking up for huge plays, Burleson will greatly aid things by taking pressure off of Johnson and doing some damage himself.
Burleson was also held out of last week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the confident Lions weren’t able to boost their playoff resume due to a loss at the hands of Ben Roethlisberger and a clicking Steelers passing attack. While the Lions have a very easy game ahead of them this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Lions might not hold Burleson out of this week’s contest.
According to the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky, Burleson was practicing with the Lions first-team offense today, which is a relatively strong early indication that Burleson will be out there against the Bucs. It seems like the most likely scenario has the Lions playing Burleson but also limiting him against a light opponent. The Lions are on a short-week after the Bucs, as they will face the rival Green Bay Packers in a key division game on Thanksgiving. If Burleson manages to get enough targets against the Bucs, though, then he could have a very strong outing against a thin group of CBs.