The 10-year veteran wide receiver had five screws and a plate inserted in his leg during season-ending surgery after suffering a tibial plateau fracture in a Week 7 loss to the Chicago Bears. Burleson understands that the growth of young Lions receivers Titus Young and Ryan Broyles could mean he'll have to find work elsewhere in the near future.
"I talk bluntly to them," Burleson said Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press. "With them balling out completely, it could leave me the odd man out. That's just the reality of the game. ...
"Once I heal up, I'm going to come back at a high level. If my spot is secure on this team, then I'm going to continue to do what I do and lead and be the person that I was before I got banged up. If not, then hopefully I'll put the young guys in a position that they can easily take my place."
Broyles essentially was drafted in the second round to replace Burleson -- the Lions just didn't expect it to happen this quickly. Coming off an ACL tear in his final season at Oklahoma, Broyles has filled in well after Burleson's injury, showing good route-running skills and sticky fingers, catching 12 balls for 140 yards and two scores.
Burleson has two years left on a contract that pays him $4.5 million next season, according to the Free Press. The Lions aren't flush with salary-cap space, and Burleson could be a roster-cut casualty next season.