Healthy Broyles could help Lions

In all, Ryan Broyles has 30 receptions for 385 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games as a pro.

Geoff Burke/Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Who could blame Ryan Broyles for feeling a little bitter by the streak of bad luck that has led to three straight season-ending injuries?

But that’s not Broyles. The Detroit Lions wide receiver is a spiritual guy who seems to find a way to always stay optimistic, even in tough times.

"Man, I’m in a blessed position, to be honest," said Broyles, 26. "Football or not, I feel I’ve been pretty fortunate throughout life.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Third World countries and see people that didn’t have anything. You know what I mean? That just keeps me positive. I’m always a positive person. I’ve got a lot to look forward to."

It’s better to do that than to look back at missing the final four games of his college career, the last four of his rookie NFL season and the entire back end of the season last year.

Call him Mr. Rehab.

Broyles’ latest setback came in Week 8 last season — Oct. 27 against Dallas — when he ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon. It was a freakish injury in that Broyles was back to field a punt that ended up being a touchback. There was no contact or explosive move. The tendon simply gave out.

A year earlier, as a rookie with the Lions, Broyles’ season ended in Week 13 — Dec. 2, 2012 against Indianapolis — with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Go back one more year to Broyles’ senior season at Oklahoma. That time it was his left knee that required surgery for a torn ACL after a game on Nov. 5, 2011, against Texas A&M.

More than anything, he’s become a professional at rehabilitation. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew called Broyles "one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever seen in terms of rehab."

Mayhew was widely criticized for even picking Broyles in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft because the Lions had so many needs to fill on defense, and Broyles’ injuries have only made matters worse.

Nevertheless, Mayhew said emphatically, "I believe in that man."

And there’s legitimate reason to be optimistic about Broyles’ chances to contribute this coming season. He was much further ahead of schedule during offseason workouts this time than in the previous two years.

"I haven’t felt this healthy to do anything in the offseason (before)," Broyles said. "I feel like I’m going to be able to get a full offseason."

The question is: How much has he lost in terms of speed and agility because of his injuries?

Broyles (5-foot-10, 188 pounds) set the NCAA record for career receptions, with 349 at Oklahoma.

He was coming off his best game as a Lion — six catches for 126 yards against Houston on Thanksgiving — when he went down the next week two years ago.

In all, Broyles has 30 receptions for 385 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games as a pro.

Players coming off an Achilles’ injury sometimes need a year or more before they return to form, but the Lions are hoping Broyles can get there faster. Quarterback Matthew Stafford certainly could use another reliable option in the passing game.

"He looks healthy, which I know he’s worked extremely hard to be," Stafford said recently. "He’s put the hours in. Every time you go in the weight room, he’s in there.

"You just hope the best. I hope for him he can stay healthy. He obviously had an extremely productive college career. The times he was in there with us during the season, he was playing pretty good caliber of football."

If nothing else, Broyles seems due for a year of good health.