One of the more interesting battles for roster spots and playing time for the Detroit Lions that not many are talking about yet is at wide receiver – specifically in the slot.
Ryan Broyles was drafted in the second round two years ago and should be coming into his own as the Lions’ man in the slot. But while he fully recovered from the knee injury he had coming into the NFL, he has been fighting the injury bug for his entire career. It was his other knee, then his Achilles last season. Going back to his final year at Oklahoma, that’s three significant season-ending injuries in three years.
Plenty of playing time was available when Broyles was drafted, a situation that has changed drastically heading into the 2014 season. As a non-traditional tight end, Eric Ebron will spend a lot of time lining up wide of the line. Golden Tate, the Lions prize of free agency, brings versatility to line up outside or in the slot. Broyles will also face a challenge from sixth-round draft pick TJ Jones.
It was clear the Lions couldn’t, and didn’t, go into the offseason with rosy glasses shading their view of Broyles’ future. But that didn’t mean they had to give up on Broyles, which they clearly have not. Per MLive:
“He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever seen in terms of rehab,” Mayhew said. “He’s just outstanding. I’ll tell you a quick story. I think it was last year. The guys have a rehab schedule, and he had a thing on his schedule that he was going to be out for a week or so. Unlike anybody ever before that, he called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in Haiti on a mission trip. Is it OK for me to go and do this or should I stay here and rehab?’
“So, that’s Ryan Broyles in a nutshell. I believe in him. I’m not going to build a whole offense around him, obviously, but I believe in that man.”
Maybe Lions fans aren’t as confident but this much is clear, Ryan Broyles is an easy player to root for.