Detroit Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles is entering the third year of his professional career with two disappointing seasons behind him.
Broyles has suffered season-ending, lower-body injuries in each of the last three years – dating back to his senior season at Oklahoma.
With that type of wear and tear on his body, one would think Broyles would be experiencing physical limitations this early in camp. However, that isn’t the case.
“I feel great. I’m excited about where I am,” said Broyles. “I was telling those guys earlier, it’s not about my physical ability any more, it’s about the mental game. It’s going in there and learning the defense and scheme, so I’m excited about where I am right now.”
Broyles suffered a torn ACL on November 5, 2011 while still in college. Still, the Lions made him a second-round selection in that year’s draft. Broyles battled back from that injury and finally seemed to be catching his stride - including a six-reception, 126-yard game against the Houston Texans – before tearing the ACL in his right knee. Again, Broyles battled back only to see his season end in October of last year with a torn Achilles.
Despite this grueling string of injuries and rehab, Broyles is doing surprisingly well. He didn’t start this season on the PUP list – the first time that’s happened in his professional career – and looks to be cutting hard on the practice field.
“My body actually feels great, this is the best I felt since before my first ACL,” he said. “I came back my first year in the league, felt pretty good at the end of the year until I tore my other one. All around, my body feels good. Knees, ankles, everything feels good.”
Broyles has worked tirelessly in his rehabilitation and maintained a remarkably positive attitude throughout the process. Also, for a receiver, it’s easier to bounce back from an Achilles than an ACL.
“I think the Achilles is just a different type of beast,” he said. “I guess the knees are a different type of beast. It took a lot longer to recover from the knees. A lot of planting and cutting all comes from the knees and the hips in that area…. Now my flexibility is good, my strength is good in my Achilles. I think it’s just a different type of rehab.”
It’s not just rebounding from injuries that Broyles is focused on. He wants to prevent them. He’s gone back to watch and analyze the plays where he got hurt and worked to avoid re-occurrence.
“I saw how I didn’t drop my hip on the first ACL,” he said. “The second one, I just got hit. My Achilles just overworked, I guess, compensation and things like that. You definitely look at the foot placement. I did a lot of stability stuff over the offseason, you don’t know where you’re going to put your foot but you want to help your body be in a good position.”
Now, with the road to recovery in his rearview mirror, Broyles is focused on earning a significant role in a crowded receiving corps that added Golden Tate and pass-catching tight end Eric Ebron.
“There’s always competition, there’s ones, twos, threes, fours, all the way to whatever it is,” he said. “Especially at the receiver position, we want the ball. Any guy in the NFL wants the ball. There’s always competition. Golden coming in, playing on a championship caliber team, I think that brings a little bit of spunk to the offense. Got a new offense coordinator as well, so it’s a fresh start. But, like I said, there is competition all around and we’re all looking to succeed.”
The Lions have struggled to gain any traction out of their No. 2 receiver spot for a number of years…