Last August, Daniel Bullocks saw his second-year in the National Football League crumble. It happened during a meaningless preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, but ended a season in which Bullocks -- a former second-round pick in 2006 -- was expected to be a starter.
Bullocks had impressed the team's coaching staff, and notably defensive coordinator Joe Barry, with his tenacity and awareness in the deep secondary. In Detroit's Tampa Two defense, Bullocks was expected to become a special player. After planting on the wrong foot the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee tore wide open, and his road to a one-year recovery continues.
In training camp, Bullocks has been placed on the PUP (Physically Unable To Perform list) -- unable to join teammates on the field, and instead, working with Detroit's strength and conditioning coaches. And while Detroit continues to piece together a preliminary depth chart, Bullocks' name has been surrounded by parenthesis.
Don't expect that to last long. Those close to the situation expect Bullocks to be in the team's starting secondary September 7 for the season-opener at Atlanta.
On Sunday, Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli said that Bullocks has already made tremendous strides in his recovery. And if everything goes to plan, he should be joining the team in early-to-mid August -- at least two weeks before the anniversary of his ill-fated misstep against the Colts.
"We really worked (him) hard on the cutting and we're trying to wait everyday to see how he responds," said Marinelli. "So far it's been good. On that one, it is so tough because if you do get him up and it's not able (to respond), two or three weeks, five weeks, four weeks away then we've put ourself behind the door.
"He's doing good and the cutting is good. Now it's cutting when you don't know where you're cutting -- that's the next step."