Not that injuries ever occur at a good time, but this was not the best time for Nate Burleson to get hurt.
The receiver was a significant part of Detroit’s pass game—out of his 23 targets, Burleson caught 19 passes, which is a little better than 82 percent and the highest completion percentage for a quarterback-wide receiver tandem.
With Burleson out indefinitely, Detroit will need someone to replace his production.
There's no question Ryan Broyles has to become active in Detroit’s passing game. After missing the first two games because of knee surgery, Broyles posted a respectable three catches for 34 yards in his debut.
It’s an unfortunate situation for Broyles to expect to be back in 2012 form on such short notice. However, since Broyles is a great young talent, this is an expectation he can handle.
Matthew Stafford will have other options outside of Broyles as well—tight ends Joseph Fauria and Tony Scheffler should be utilized more with Burleson’s injury.
Fauria said, “I think I’m capable of doing a lot of stuff,” according to Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Fauria has shown promise this season, as the rookie has 32 yards on four catches and two touchdowns.
With limited snaps and targets, Fauria has had great production. Now that more may be asked of the young tight end, he will need to step into the spotlight to help Stafford maintain balance in the passing game.
Fauria has mitts that are capable of pulling down plenty of passes, so Stafford could have a great target in him.
Scheffler is the other tight end that will see an increase in targets. He has not been utilized much in Detroit’s offensive scheme so far, with only three targets and two receptions. Now, however, his workload is sure to increase and Stafford needs the production from the vet.
Against Washington, Scheffler caught his only two passes of the season for five yards. In Week 4 against the Chicago Bears, his game will be needed to assist Stafford against the Bears’ stout defense.
Reggie Bush is the final option on Detroit’s current roster that can impact the pass game.
For much of his career, Bush has caught a myriad of passes out of the backfield—he continued that trend in the season opener. In the Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Bush produced a 77-yard TD reception—accounting for 30 or 40 reception yards per game shouldn’t be too much of a hassle for the vet.
Bush is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bears. However, Bush said that he will play against Chicago.
When he does return, this should not be a hard role for Bush to fill—if he can stay healthy.
The impact of Burleson’s injury is indeed a big blow, but it won’t be one Detroit cannot handle with the personnel on its roster.