You may not immediately think of the name Nate Burleson when
you think of the Detroit Lions. However, for the past three years he has been an
underrated commodity and a great leader for the team. He has flown under the
radar for the majority of his ten year career, but has managed to rack up over
5000 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns. He turns 32 in August, but the seasoned
veteran still has plenty left in the tank.
Drafted out of the University of Nevada in the 2003 NFL
draft, Burleson instantly showed promise for the Minnesota Vikings. The third round
pick was a constant presence on the field, playing both receiver and on special
teams. In 2004, Burleson really made his mark, netting 1006 receiving yards and
Burleson signed with Seattle in 2006, where he played four
impressive seasons for the Seahawks. He didn’t see much time at receiver, but
made the most of his opportunities as a punt and kick returner, and became one
of the biggest return threats in the NFL. He left Seattle in 2010 for more opportunities
at receiver, signing a five year deal with Detroit worth around 25 million
He made an impact right away for the Lions as the receiver
opposite all-pro, Calvin Johnson. In 2011, Burleson had a career high, 73
receptions, and looked for 2012 to eclipse even more career statistics.
Unfortunately, he suffered a broken leg against the Vikings in week 6, and was
forced to miss the remainder of what became a dismal season for the team.
In addition to recovering from his injury, Burleson was
faced with a big decision in the 2012 offseason, and chose to take
significantly less money to continue his tenure with the Lions. There are not
many individuals in the NFL like Nathaniel E. Burleson as he could’ve made more
money playing elsewhere. However, since day one, he has remained adamant about
finishing his career in Detroit.
Not only is he a mentor and leader for the Lions, but he is
also true team player. With the money freed up by the restructuring of his
contract, Detroit was able to bring in such talents as Reggie Bush, Jason Jones,
and Glover Quinn Jr. He has given the Lions hope for next season, and for
seasons to come.
His recovery is ahead of schedule, according to Nate via NFL
Network, and I for one, cannot wait to see him back on the field. His presence
is needed in order for the success of this young Lions football team. His
continued consistency and hard work should allow him to regain the starting
receiver job, and rightfully so. It looks to be an exciting year for the Lions
in 2013, as Matthew Stafford’s skills continue to develop. Look for Burleson to
make a huge impact, and put up the biggest numbers of his career.
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