Nate Burleson will be back in the Detroit Lions' lineup for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Detroit Free Press reports. The wideout has been cleared for contact after missing the last two months with a broken arm he suffered while trying to save pizza from sliding off the front passenger seat of his car.
Burleson appears to be fully healthy. He returned to practice on a limited basis after the Lions' Week 9 bye and has worked with the first-team offense throughout the week. Burleson himself seems relieved to be back. Via the Free Press:
"I don't want to give away too much, but things are looking up for Nate Burleson," Burleson said. "Catching some balls, getting high fives. My friends are talking to me again. Things are finally looking up. That pizza set me back, man."
That fateful pizza caused a single vehicle accident back in September. Burleson was driving home after watching Monday Night Football with teammates, and had purchased two whole pizzas and stacked them next to him on the passenger seat. He took his eyes off the road to catch the top box as it began sliding toward the floor, then looked up to see an oncoming car. Burleson swerved and hit a median, breaking his left arm in the process. No alcohol was involved, just concern for cheesy, saucy baked dough from Happy's Pizza.
Fortunately, the Lions were able to manage reasonably well without Burleson, who is the team's No. 2 wide receiver. The Lions currently stand atop the NFC North standings at 6-4 overall, holding a tiebreaker over the 6-4 Chicago Bears courtesy of a regular season sweep of their intra-division rival.
Burleson's return should be a major boost to a wide receiver corps that consists of Calvin Johnson and little else. Kris Durham has been acting as the team's No. 2 wideout with Burleson sitting and Ryan Broyles out for the year with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Before going to the bench after Week 3, Burleson had 19 receptions for 239 yards and no touchdowns.