LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Titus Young has moved up the Detroit Lions’ depth chart.
And on scouting reports.
Young has 15 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games — surpassing his production from the first five games combined — by taking advantage of the attention Calvin Johnson gets and increased opportunities he’s getting without Nate Burleson in the lineup.
The second-year pro has been under the radar for much of his short career, but he isn’t anymore.
“He’s a guy we have to be aware of with his speed and his ability and what he can do with the ball afterwards,” Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday. “He’s definitely an issue.”
The Lions (3-4) hope Young can keep making the most of all the double- and triple-coverage schemes Johnson will likely see from the Jaguars (1-6) on the road Sunday.
Young is coming off the best game of his career, making nine receptions — catching every ball thrown his way — for 100 yards and two scores, including the winning grab with 20 seconds left against Seattle.
He recalled teammates telling him before that game that it was his turn to step up and make plays.
“I just saw it in the guys’ eyes and saw a lot of guys just looking to me during the week to see how I’d respond to our adversity and losing a great leader in Nate Burleson,” Young said Sunday. “I just took it upon myself to do the best I could and be there for my team.”
Young came through for the Lions for the second straight week after a slow start this season. He had six receptions for 81 yards in a loss on Oct. 22 at Chicago, where Burleson broke his right leg and was lost for the season.
“When Titus is doing that, our offense flows,” Johnson said. “That helps out a ton.”
It also helps that Young was ready for his shot to shine because he didn’t get too discouraged about catching just 11 passes for 123 yards and only one score in the first five games.
That wasn’t what the former Boise State standout — or the team — had in mind for the second-round pick this season after he had 48 receptions for 607 yards and six TDs last year as a rookie.
When Matthew Stafford threw a 1-yard slant toward Young to beat the Seahawks, the receiver said he had a message for his quarterback.
“I just told him, ‘Thank you for believing in me,'” Young recalled. “I’ve had a couple games this season where I struggled and really wasn’t getting all the plays I wanted to get, and I was kind of a little down. I was down for a little bit.”
The Lions seem to be on their way back up as a team — winning two of three — and have pulled within a victory of getting back to .500 after a three-game losing streak dropped them to 1-3 in a season that started with high expectations.
It has helped that Detroit has found someone to make teams pay for focusing too much on Johnson.
His name is Young.
“Somebody has to make plays when Calvin is getting doubled, and Matt has to look for the next guy and so far that’s been Titus,” tight end Brandon Pettigrew said. “It helps when somebody else is stepping up out of the bunch. Titus can fill that void that we’ve got without Nate because he’s got great hands and runs great routes.”
NOTES: Lions coach Jim Schwartz declined comment on Mike Thomas after Wednesday’s practice because the receiver hasn’t passed his physical. Jacksonville traded Thomas to Detroit on Tuesday for an undisclosed pick, potentially putting him on the field against his old team just days after it dealt him. “I have not been involved in anything like this,” Mularkey said.
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