Behind Broyles' name read: four targets, three catches, 54 yards, zero touchdowns with an average of 18 yards per catch. It’s a typical preseason stat line for a rookie receiver with limited reps. The only thing is: Broyles isn’t a typical rookie receiver.
The Lions’ second-round pick out of Oklahoma is just nine months removed from reconstructive ACL surgery to his left knee. It’s been a long road to recovery for Broyles, but that modest stat line from last week could just as easily of read 10 catches for 150 yards as far as Broyles is concerned.
“For me, even more than what the coaches see, it gave me my confidence back a little bit being out there and catching some balls,” he said. “It’s just the beginning, but I feel like it helped my confidence.”
Broyles isn’t 100 percent healthy and was told by doctors at the time of his surgery it might take until November for him to feel all the way back, so it's a good sign he's already able to make plays and contribute.
“We wouldn’t have put him out there in the preseason if he wasn’t ready to play,” head coach Jim Schwartz said. “We saw him make plays there. He made some plays for us in the preseason.”
Enough plays, in fact, that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Thursday he wouldn’t hesitate to use Broyles in the game plan Sunday vs. the Rams if it called for it.
“His days are coming up,” Linehan said. “He may play some, it just depends on who’s active and who’s not on Sunday.
“His trend has been up every week and we’ve been really happy with that because you never know how a guy is going to respond with coming off an injury. We’re really happy with him in the preseason with where he was physically as well as mentally in picking up the offense.”
Broyles is just two years removed from a 2010 season at Oklahoma that saw him catch 131 passes for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns. The receptions and yards are Oklahoma single-season records.
The Bills game finally showed him tangible proof that he’s getting closer to being the player he was in college and the player the Lions expected him to be when they chose him in the second round 54th overall.
Schwartz said he hasn’t decided which seven players will be on the inactive list for Sunday’s game, or whether Broyles might be among them.
“The 46 is always more work; sort of a give and take with injuries and different packages and things like that,” Schwartz said Thursday. “We’ll see this Sunday. But he certainly is eligible (to play). We wouldn’t have had him out there in preseason if he wasn’t.”