That group included Charles Rogers, the team's first round draft choice (third overall) in 2003. Rogers was on his way to establishing himself as the team's top receiving threat before suffering an broken collarbone in a no pads drill collision with Lions corner Dre' Bly.
The initial diagnosis was that Rogers would be back in 4-6 weeks. But six weeks turned into the remainder of the season and then, alarmingly, Rogers wore a rubber brace around the collarbone in the post draft mini camp sessions raising questions about his health and durability.
But there was Rogers on the mini camp practice field, minus the rubber collar, but with a red jersey added. The red jersey means "do not touch" in football terms.
"This is just a minor setback, that's just life," Rogers theorized, "I'm doing my thing now and I'm just happy to be out there and I'm feeling good."
The Saginaw, MI standout said his recovery felt neither slow nor long because, he didn't know what to expect, having never experienced an injury of this nature.
"It was a situation where I was in uncharted waters, so I didn't know what to expect and how long [the recovery] would take. I had to just wait and see.
"I'm out there practicing, you are seeing what I'm seeing. I'm out there practicing and I don't seem like I'm timid or nothing like that so I'm just having a good time."
When told by another reporter that Joey Harrington jokingly stated that he didn't want his two talented wideouts constantly telling him they were open and that he would determine who was open when he threw the football, Rogers didn't see the joke.
"That's his job to determine who's open as long as we're winning games nobodies going to get greedy, we're trying to get numbers. Hey, we haven't been to the playoffs since '97, why are we going to argue about who's getting balls, we're trying to win."
Coach Steve Mariucci said it's normal for an athlete coming back from injury to be a little anxious to get back into competition and that sometimes they need to be held back a little.
"That is normally is what happens with these pro athletes - they want to be back so quickly that they would play immediately if you let them. They usually want to practice right away and play right away. It bothers them to miss anything, but that's a good thing. That is a good quality. Hopefully by training camp he's ready to roll."
Mariucci says while he's taking it slow, he's preparing Rogers for a big role in the Lions offense in 2004.
"We did a little more with him than we did last camp. We put a little red jersey on him, which means hands off. It allows him to participate in more drills, whether it be one-on-one or seven-on-seven. It just ups his workload a little bit more and as we get closer to training camp he'll work more and more so he's more confident when he starts playing again."
And the coach is happy with the progress that the Michigan State standout has made to date.
"He's had such a good off season. He started a month before everybody else did and he was here regularly rehabbing, lifting, treating, getting stronger, the whole thing.
He has had a heck of an off-season. He is just trying to get back on the field as fast as he can to where we all have a certain comfort zone. It seems like it's been a long time, but we'll just do it gradually I guess."
The Lions are hoping a healthy Charles Rogers along with the additions of Williams and free agent Tai Street and holdover Az-Zahir Hakim can give them the potent receiving group that can stretch the field and make big plays.
So it was good to see Rogers out on the practice field showing the moves and the speed we saw flashes of in 2004, even if he was wearing a red jersey.. and a bit of an attitude.