“It was different,” Broyles said. “This time I managed the swelling, managed the pain so I could get stronger.”
The injury derailed what was turning into a promising rookie season. Broyles was inactive for the first two games and wasn't in the Lions' regular receiver rotation through October.
But when veteran Nate Burleson suffered a season-ending broken leg in the team's sixth game, Broyles was given regular playing time. He took advantage.
Broyles compiled six-catch games against both the Jaguars and Texans. He finished with 22 receptions for 310 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 14.1 yards per catch.
“I feel I definitely made a statement, showing everyone I could come back from that injury and produce at a high level,” Broyles said. “The stability is there (in my right knee) but your explosiveness takes some time to get back.”
If Broyles can remain healthy, he will be part of a dynamic offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford. Last season, Detroit finished third in the NFL in total offense, second in passing offense.
Opponents often double team All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson, which allowed Broyles to take advantage of man-to-man coverage.
“Ryan could have a big impact in this offense,” said tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who played at OSU. “He's willing to go over the middle and make those tough catches. After he catches it he accelerates and gets up the field quickly. He can do it all. He was playing very well before he got hurt.
“He looks great. He's been running great. I expect him to have a great year.”
Broyles is on a team that wants to prove it's the same team that ended a 12-year playoff drought two years ago, not the team that finished last season on an eight-game losing streak to finish 4-12.
“We feel everyone is counting us out,” Broyles said. “Being the underdog you have to work really hard.”
Broyles knows all about working hard. Does he feel cursed to suffer two torn ACLs a year apart?
“It's definitely something I never expected,” Broyles said. “I feel good. I have the heart of a warrior, a mind that is ready to attack anything that comes my way.”