Nate Burleson injury: Lions WR back at practice

USA TODAY Sports

After being sidelined for most of last season, the veteran receiver is practicing ahead of schedule. What can be expected of him in 2013?

Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson suffered an ugly leg injury in Week 7 against the Bears and was forced to miss the rest of the year as he saw Detroit lose their last eight games of the year. He won't be watching from the sidelines anymore however and is participating in OTAs earlier than expected:

"It's as healed up as it's going to get," he said. "The good thing about being out there is I am playing at a high level and I am not 100 percent. When it gets stronger and I get endurance back in it, I will be back to playing with extreme confidence."

Burleson had 27 catches for 240 yards in six games before the injury. He recorded a career-high 73 catches for the Lions in 2011, to go along with 757 yards as the starting receiver opposite of star Calvin Johnson. The team will be counting on Burleson heavily in 2013, as they have since moved on from troubled receiver Titus Young, and most fans would be cautious about the health of Ryan Broyles, or the consistency of players such as Kris Durham or Mike Thomas.

While he has never quite lived up to the hype following a breakout season for the Vikings back in 2004, Burleson has been consistent and reliable for Detroit. That's all they're asking for right now.

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