Detroit Lions Need Titus Young to Grow Up so He Can Step Up in 2012

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Titus Young #16 of the Detroit Lions catches a touchdown in front of DeMarcus Van Dyke #23 of the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on December 18, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I like Titus Young. I think he's a very talented receiver who could be destined for a huge role in the next few years.

At least, if he can grow up.

So far, not so good, as he was absent from organized training activities after getting into a fight with safety Louis Delmas last week. Apparently, it was a Steve Smith-style sucker punch as well.

Not shockingly, he's been asked to skip OTAs for now, as reported by's Anwar Richardson.

It's an unfortunately common theme when writing about the Lions that they have a well-earned reputation for, shall we say, heated decisions on the field.

Not long ago, I wrote about defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh needing to make some better and less emotional decisions on the field.

The same goes for Titus Young.

Young has the talent, just like Suh. Maybe he doesn't have the capacity to be the game-changer Suh can be, but he could be a very good receiver.

He won't be able to do anything for the Lions, though, if he cannot control his emotions.

Too often in 2011, Young's temper cost the team yards and occasionally contributed to losses.

For example, let's look at the December 4 game against the New Orleans Saints.

Now, by no means was Young the only culprit in that loss—head coach Jim Schwartz said (via Richardson), "There's no excuse for the multiple penalties we had today."

Young's penalty was a foolish unnecessary roughness penalty that cost his team 15 yards—so instead of being on the three-yard line, they were pushed back to the 18 and had to settle for a field goal.

Those things add up. Is it the sole reason they lost? Of course not. It sure as hell hurt the effort, though, especially since so many penalties did add up.

Young did feel badly about it, of course, according to Anwar Richardson.

"I was completely wrong for what I did," Young said. "I kind of let my emotions get the best of me. I really wasn't thinking of anything but myself at that time. It wasn't a good time to have a penalty, period, but definitely in that situation I will say I was wrong. It's something I will learn from. Hopefully I won't let it happen again."

Unfortunately, it seems Young isn't learning anything. As I said about Suh, if you can't stay on the field, you can't help your team.

It really starts to put that Ryan Broyles pick into perspective, doesn't it? With all the penalties, Young must have scared the Lions a little.

Before this week, I was firmly of the opinion that Broyles was going to have to wait and Young would emerge as the No. 3.

This incident has made me look back at Young's first year, and honestly, I don't feel half as confident.

Looking at the season again, there were too many penalties across the board, but Young's were among the most foolish, most of the time.

The problem with this is that Broyles is still rehabbing—it's hard to say how ready he'll be come the beginning of the season.

So, if Young cannot control himself, Detroit has an issue at the third wide receiver spot.

Now, before we get all crazy here, let's remember something—this is just practice. To start the year, there's always some flare-up or other between offense and defense.

In a vacuum, this is probably nothing.

Putting it into the context of Young's very brief career, though, it is a concern.

Listen, you have Calvin Johnson. Right there, you are already ahead of the game.

Nate Burleson is a solid No. 2. He gets you yards and is just dangerous enough to draw some coverage off Megatron. Not a lot—not enough—but all CJ needs is a crack.

What the Lions need is a dynamic second wide receiver, though, or at least an option in the third spot.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07:  Jabari Greer #33 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after an interception in the fourth quarter as Titus Young #16 of the Detroit Lions looks on during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Ja
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Broyles is likely to still be catching up early in the season, assuming his rehab stays on time. Young could be that guy—could be the guy who is enough of a threat to really make defenses adjust away from Johnson.

It'll never be a ton—you can't leave Johnson free—but enough to make them pay if they double Johnson or rethink the concept of shifting too much coverage that way.

He cannot do that if he doesn't wake up and realize he can't make the same foolish, ill-conceived and emotional decisions he has made on the field (including the practice field) so far.

Further, while he can't help the team when he's being penalized so much, he sure as heck can hurt them.

The Lions really need him to step up this year—they need Young to contribute in a bigger way if they are going to truly compete with the NFL's best, including the division-rival Green Bay Packers.

First, though, they need him to grow up and realize that he's not just hurting himself with these boneheaded moves—he's actively hurting his team.

That just can't keep happening.