Detroit Lions: Three Players Who Have Been Overlooked This Season

Derek TislerContributor IOctober 1, 2011

Detroit Lions: Three Players Who Have Been Overlooked This Season

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    As the Detroit Lions continue to emerge as one of the NFL’s elite teams, several players are gaining recognition for their effort in turning around one of the worst franchises in the history of the NFL.

    Stars like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh have not only become the face of the Detroit Lions, but are proving themselves to be some of the most talented football players in the league. These players are completely deserving of their praise they have been given this season, but they are not the only reason the Detroit Lions currently have the best record in the NFL.

    Several other players are stepping up in critical times and making key plays. Here are three overlooked players who are quietly on their way to great seasons.

Nate Burleson

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    When a team has a starting wide receiver as dominant as Calvin Johnson has been this season, it can be difficult to notice anyone else on the field.

    However, anyone who has been paying attention to Nate Burleson this season will tell you how important he’s been to the Lions early season success. With 14 receptions (22nd among NFL wide receivers) for 165 yards (35th among NFL wide receivers), Burleson has been invaluable to quarterback Matt Stafford and has become one of the best No. 2 receivers in the NFL. Burleson has been the reason that defenses aren’t able to double or triple team Calvin Johnson on every play. In addition, he has been a great leader for the young players on offense, an entertaining character during press conferences and even a coach for touchdown celebrations.

Kyle Vanden Bosch

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    In 2010, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch was signed by the Detroit Lions to play with his former defensive coach, Jim Schwartz. Since then, Vanden Bosch has been the leader of one of the best defensive units in the nation.

    This season, Vanden Bosch was named defensive team captain once again and it is easy to see why. He brings unmatched intensity, work ethic and leadership to a very young and talented defensive line, which has been responsible for six sacks this season. Vanden Bosch has three sacks (7th in NFL) and two forced fumbles (2nd in NFL) and is on his way to a great season.

    However, like Burleson, he is often overshadowed by Ndamukong Suh who is one of the best defensive players in the league and has become the face of the Detroit Lions defense. Kyle Vanden Bosch is a very talented football player who should not be overlooked. Offenses have been paying greatly for making that mistake this season.

Brandon Pettigrew

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    The Detroit Lions offense has been explosive this season. Among so many great playmakers, Brandon Pettigrew has really started to distinguish himself as one of the nation's elite tight ends.

    At 6’5” 265lbs, Pettigrew is a deadly weapon for Matt Stafford. Pettigrew ranks 3rd among NFL tight ends in receptions (16) and 8th among tight ends in yards (176).

    Pettigrew played a key role in the comeback win against the Minnesota Vikings last week, catching 11 passes for 112 yards. In addition to his receiving numbers, Pettigrew has been great in the blocking game, setting up runners for huge gains. Brandon Pettigrew is an outstanding athlete and will be an essential player for the Detroit Lions moving forward this season.