Burleson takes part in Lions' OTA; Delmas still absent

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- There was one veteran player absent from the first two OTA sessions for the Detroit Lions -- safety Louis Delmas.
There was another veteran player who wasn't supposed to be back on the field until July -- receiver Nate Burleson, who participated both on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I wasn't supposed to, I was told not to (practice)," said Burleson, who broke his leg in Week 7 last year. "But it's like I always told you guys, if I can walk I can run, and if I can run I can play."
Burleson, 31, took part in all the drills, including 7-on-7s.
"It's as healed up as it's going to get," he said. "The good thing about being out there is I am playing at a high level and I am not 100 percent. When it gets stronger and I get endurance back in it, I will be back to playing with extreme confidence."
Head coach Jim Schwartz was not surprised Burleson was able to get back on the field this quickly.
"Over the course of his career he's been a fast healer," Schwartz said. "He's a very, very tough guy and he's rehabbed very hard. He means a lot to our football team.
"It's important to have him out there for our offense for a lot of reasons. No. 1, he's a good player and he brings something to the equation that goes beyond what his playing ability is."
Burleson said he was not risking further injury by coming back this soon, especially when there is no contact in OTA drills.
"With broken bones, once they've healed up you are good," he said. "There's no ligament (damage) so that's great. I don't have to worry about straining or spraining anything. Right now I am just getting my confidence up, getting stronger, getting my endurance back and recovering from the soreness.
"I've been through all of that before."
As for Delmas, the absence was expected. He is doing rehabilitation work on his ailing knees, presumably in Miami.
"We're in communication with Lou," Schwartz said. "He's not here right now but there's nothing he can get out of this because he can't physically do the stuff we're doing."
As far as the team has announced, Delmas' last surgery was during training camp last year. It was his second knee surgery in less than year, one on each leg. There has been no report of any additional procedure since the season ended.
"The biggest thing with Lou is going to be his health and that's what he's working on," Schwartz said.
--Running back Reggie Bush took his turn receiving punts during special teams drills Wednesday. Even though he has had success in that role in the past, the Lions would prefer not to use him there.
"I've done it before and I don't mind it," said Bush. "I can still do it if I need to and if they want me to do it." Bush, 28, is expected to have a huge role in the offense and the Lions may prefer to have other players handle returns. "It's still early," Bush said. "They haven't said anything official yet. We're still feeling it out."
--The Lions' rebuilt offensive line looked like this on Wednesday -- LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Dylan Gandy, RT Jason Fox. Schwartz cautioned against drawing any conclusions.
"Honestly, we are not in the player evaluation business right now," he said. "Any job guys earn is going to be because of training camp and preseason games, not because of what they've done in OTAs."
--Running back Mikel Leshoure was held out of drills Wednesday. "He's battling some stuff," Schwartz said. "He can do some individual stuff but he's not ready to do any team work."
--Backup quarterback Shaun Hill, who had a surgical procedure after the season, still has a boot on his left foot. Cornerback Darius Slay, the team's second-round pick, is still out after knee surgery.
--Receiver Ryan Broyles (knee surgery), defensive end Devin Taylor, the team's fourth-round pick (unspecified) and undrafted free agent linebacker Alex Elkins (hamstring) also did not participate Wednesday.

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