(DETROIT,MI) -- The $64,000 question everyone is asking about the Lions offense is "'when is Germane Crowell going to get on the field?"
Crowell knows that's what everyone is waiting for.
The four year veteran from Virginia -- who broke most of Lion All-Pro and hall-of-famer in waiting Herman Moore's collegiate receiving records -- burst onto the NFL scene with a flourish. Showing a rare combination of size, speed, agility and hands, Crowell made Detroit's brass believe they had their franchise receiver for the next ten years.
After playing in 13 games for Bobby Ross' "chunk" offense, Crowell had a breakout season in 1999 when he challenged both Herman Moore and Johnnie Morton for playing time. Crowell caught 81 balls for 1,338 yards and seven touchdowns, while moving the chains 54 times for first downs and stamped himself as a rising star among NFC wideouts.
But in 2000 after just nine games, Crowell broke his foot. Then again in 2001 he suffered a catastrophic season-ending knee injury in October. He has not played since. Now, one year later, Crowell is happy about the progress he has made, but refuses to rush it for fear of a setback.
"I'm feeling pretty good. It's still day-by-day. My knees are progressing well. They're feeling pretty good. I just want to continue to progress. Right now it's still a 'feel' thing. Whenever I feel to the point I can play at that high level that's when I'll be out there on the field."
Both Crowell and Owens are 6' 3". Crowell is 216lbs, Owens is 226lbs. If Crowell can get back on the field completely healthy, that will allow Detroit to move free-agent acquisition Az-Zahir Hakim into the slot position that is more suited to his skills. That move, along with the improved play of Bill Schroeder slong with backups Scotty Anderson and Eddie Drummond would give Detroit a potent receiving corps.
Crowell knows that he likely will be activated off the PUP list next week, because if not, he'll be shelved for the remainder of the season, but he still won't pressure himself to return before he's ready.
"I'm not putting any pressure on myself. Right now, my biggest asset is getting healthy and that's what I want to do. If I'm ready to play at that point then I'll play, but if not, I'll continue to progress as I have been."
While impressed with the Lions' offense to this point, Crowell is cautiously optimistic.
"I think we had a good showing the last game against New Orleans," he said. "The offense went out and executed pretty well. We made some plays in the receiving corps. Right now, it's a little too early to tell. It's only one game so you don't want to jump ahead of yourself. But I think we showed some progress.
Is Crowell getting the itch to return and help the offense? Indeed, but he won't rush anything.
"It definitely excites me [what the offense is doing], but I still have got to be 'right' when I get out there. There's no need for me to go out there when I'm not 'right'. That's my main concern."