“I’m not going to build a whole offense around him, obviously, but I beleive in that man” –Martin Mayhew
That quote, via Tim Twentyman at DetroitLions.com, speaks volumes about the Detroit Lions and their hopes for wide receiver Ryan Broyles, a perpetually injured second round pick who’s now facing a major make or break season.
After recovery from a college ACL injury and another blown out knee slowed his rookie year, last season was supposed to be the year that Broyles took off. Instead, he tore his achilles, and was cost more time away from the field. It was an unfortunate circumstance for both parties. The depleated Lions could have used Broyles in 2013 as much as Broyles could have used developmental time on the field.
Now, with a new coaching staff, Broyles has to stay healthy and manage to stay on the field. More than that, he has to impress when on the field and make some big plays in games during important moments. “I beleive in Ryan, and he’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever seen in terms of rehab, practice,” Mayhew continued.
Mayhew can laud Broyles’ ability to practice and rehab as much as he wants, but the fact remains, unless Broyles can stay on the field and make waves while he’s there, Jim Caldwell and Mayhew should have their very first personnel battle to hash out as coach and general manager. Clearly, Mayhew’s all-in with Broyles, while Caldwell consistently plays things closer to the vest. The coach said Broyles would be given a “clean slate” under the new staff, but that’s likely coach speak, especially if things don’t go as planned.
Some players are better in practice than during the game. Others are the opposite. With Broyles, nobody can truly say which category he falls into with certainty. Outside a Thanksgiving game against the Houston Texans two years ago and a few catches against the Washington Redskins this past season, there’s been nothing to indicate what type of professional reciever he is or translates to be. That’s a major problem three years into a career.
All of that combines to make 2014 vital for Broyles and the Lions together. The receiver would do good to stay healthy and competitive in the battle for slot receiver. In a competition between he and Kris Durham, Broyles should win every single time. What always keeps Durham around, though, is his durability.
To progress his career in Detroit, Broyles has to somehow find that in order to shed the label of injury prone. Unfortunate injuries can happen to anyone, but two in two years is more than a bit troubling and costly.
For more reasons than one, that makes this season a must for Broyles, who has to play as if his job depends on it, even if it might not.