By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – As much as Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson wants to play, he said he won’t risk his health to do it. Sure, he will probably make his pitch to get in the game Sunday, he said, but he will listen if the doctors advise against it.
He returned to the open portion of practice for the first time Tuesday, but he said he will just have to wait and see whether he will play against the Chicago Bears.
“I’m not going to sit here and pull an RG3 and talk over what is common sense, and that’s listening to my coaches and listening to the doctors,” Burleson said Tuesday. “I want to play, and that’s just me being a competitor. That doesn’t mean that my arm is ready to be out there for 60 minutes.”
Robert Griffin III played on a sprained LCL in December after evidently refusing to get looked at by doctors, including noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, who was on the sideline at the time.
“I probably will get in Coach’s ear a little bit, but I’ve been in the league 11 years, and I know that being smart and listening to the doctors versus having a competitive stupidity behind you is the route to go,” Burleson added, “so I’m going to be smart and listen to everybody else around me.”
Burleson broke his arm Sept. 24 in an single-car accident caused when he got distracted by falling pizza. Since then he has endured the jokes and dedicated himself to rehab, now catching footballs and lifting weights again.
Burleson said getting back on the playing field will require some adjustments, and how everything works and feels is something that will be hard to pin down without actually playing in a game.
“You can’t test it out really in practice,” Burleson said. “I have a pretty strong splint on it in practice. I can’t really feel anything – when they put it on, they strapped it up – as far as impact. I think I’m safe. Now it’s just making sure that the bone is as healed as it can get, and then I’ve got to learn to play with it. I’ve got to learn to fall on the opposite shoulder and not try to brace myself with my left hand, so there’s a lot of things that I’m going to have to adjust to wearing the brace.”
Whether he can play or not, Burleson said he is confident the Lions have what they need to win Sunday.
“We have the tools, the guys in the locker room, the technology in the receiver room, as far as players go to be successful against Chicago without me,” Burleson said. “I feel like I can help the team, but if I can’t play, I’ve got faith in the guys we got.”
Head coach Jim Schwartz said Burleson’s progress is positive but that just because he practiced Tuesday does not mean he’ll be ready to go Sunday.
“I’d caution reading too much into him being out there and being back,” Schwartz said, “but he is progressing well, and everybody’s pleased with his progression. We all know how tough a guy Nate is. If it was up to him, he probably wouldn’t have missed one game. The big thing with Nate is when we do get him back – we’re going to get him back – but we want to make sure that he’s back for good.”