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Lions Rookie Titus Young Making Progress

The Lions have been proof positive of one of the many reasons draft grades in April make no sense, injuries.  The Lions were praised as having a draft to be reckoned with, but with two weeks until the season kicks off the Lions prized rookie class consists of 5th rounder Doug Hogue and 7th rounder Johnny Culbreath on the field.

1st round pick Nick Fairley is still recovering from a broken foot, and 2nd round pick Mikel Leshoure is on IR for the year after rupturing his Achilles early in training camp.  The remaining rookie, 2nd rounder Titus Young is on the verge of taking the field.

Young pulled his hamstring in one of the first training camp practices, but he’s been practicing more and more over the last several days.  Coach Schwartz sounded encouraged by his progress today.  “I don’t know if he’s over the hump yet, but he’s close to it.  (He) was able to put a week of practice together, was able to finish practices,” said Schwartz.

The receiving corps was plagued by a lack of depth last season, and Young was being counted on to add much needed production from the 3rd receiver slot.  Young’s loss was somewhat offset by the recent emergence of free agents Maurice Stovall and Rashied Davis, who have both had excellent camps and preseasons thus far.

While both veterans add experience and production, neither of them can blow the lid off a defense like Young can.  Young’s 2011 stats will not be the primary measuring stick of his worth to the team, it will actually be Calvin Johnson’s stats that gauge Young’s success.

The Lions, and the rest of the NFL, are very aware of CJ’s ability to stretch the field.  But without another vertical threat, defenses can roll coverage over to Johnson and not worry about giving up a huge play to anybody else.  Nate Burleson is a talented and dangerous receiver because of his run after the catch ability, not his deep speed.  Opposing defenses have been more than happy to take their chances of getting burned by him rather than CJ.

With Young working his way back into the picture, defenses will have to worry about two home run threats on the field, as well as Burleson underneath.  While defenses will still pay more attention to Johnson, just a few big plays from Young will keep defensive coordinators honest.

It’s no secret that Calvin Johnson has the potential to be the most productive receiver in the NFL, but for that to happen he needs a little help from his fellow receivers.  With Young finally getting closer to hitting the field, the Lions will be one step closer to realizing that potential.

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