As part of our season wrap-up series, the 2012 POD Awards roll on. Next up is the category for the Detroit Lions' Breakout Player of the Year. Here are the nominees:
RB Joique Bell
Bell turned an outstanding preseason into a roster spot, and he turned a roster spot into being a regular part of the rotation at running back. He ended up having 414 yards rushing and 485 yards receiving in 2012, and he scored 3 touchdowns.
RB Mikel Leshoure
Leshoure finally made his NFL debut after serving a two-game suspension to start the season. This came after a year-long wait as Leshoure recovered from an Achilles injury. He went on to rush for 798 yards and 9 touchdowns, and he also added 214 yards receiving.
WR Ryan Broyles
Broyles got off to a slow start to the season due to his recovery from an ACL injury that he suffered in college. Once his playing time increased, he showed why the Lions made him a second-round pick. Unfortunately, another ACL injury cut his season short, but he finished with 310 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns in only 10 games.
OT Riley Reiff
The Lions essentially made Reiff their sixth offensive lineman, designing specific packages to get him on the field. He actually started 8 games, although only one was at left tackle. The rest were as a sixth offensive lineman, and he was pretty impressive during his rookie season. That is why the Lions gave him so much playing time.
DT Nick Fairley
Fairley shook off an injury-plagued rookie season and legal issues in the offseason and put together an outstanding 2012 season. He had 34 tackles and 5.5 sacks, as well as 2 forced fumbles. An injury kept him out the final few weeks of the season, but Fairley emerged as a big contributor at defensive tackle and solidified his spot in the starting lineup going forward.