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Can Dennis Northcutt Shine as the Detroit Lions' No. 2 WR?

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 14:  Dennis Northcutt #86 of the Jacksonville Jaguars lines up during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Municipal stadium on December 14, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Oliver VanDervoortCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2009

By now, most Detroit Lions fans have heard of Bryant Johnson's odd injury with a golf cart. While he finally came to practice yesterday, the man slated to be Detroit's No. 2 receiver won't play in the Lions' first preseason game and saw limited action at his first practice.

Certainly this could be viewed as another in a long line of ridiculous mishaps that seem to happen on a yearly basis with Detroit Lions receivers, but this particular injury may not hurt the team as much as wide receiver losses in the past.

While Bryant Johnson was and is being counted on for big things opposite the Lions' top target in Calvin Johnson, Detroit has a third option who could be just as good. 

Dennis Northcutt is slated as the No. 3 receiver this season, and could rise to that coveted second slot with a good showing in camp.

Talent-wise, Bryant Johnson might be looked at as the better of the two, but numbers-wise they seem interchangeable. Johnson has played in 93 games over six seasons, and has consistently caught 40-plus passes a season. His best year was with the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, when he caught 40 passes for a career high 740 yards and four touchdowns.

Northcutt for a time was a bright spot on the Cleveland Browns offense. In 2003 he caught 62 passes for 729 yards, and in 2004 he nabbed another 55 receptions for a career-high 806 yards.

Last season in San Francisco, Johnson hauled in 45 receptions for 546 yards and three touchdowns—respectable numbers considering how much the 49ers offense struggled at times. Northcutt caught 44 passes for 545 yards and two touchdowns in his final season in Jacksonville.

So while most seasons have seen a Lions wide receiver go down with injury, and the club holds its collective breath as it stumbles trying to find a replacement, this year's'incarnation appears to have that replacement at the ready.

Northcutt simply needs to take what's being offered.

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