When the Lions lined up in a three-wide receiver formation during 11-on-11 drills Saturday Calvin Johnson was split right Ryan Broyles was in the slot and guess who was flanked on the left side?

The irrepressible ageless wonder himself — Nate Burleson.

“Oh yeah” Burleson said. “I love being in the slot; that’s kind of where my home is. But we’re trying different combinations. I ran a lot of outside routes today and caught the ball well and got open on the outside.”

There are six players in camp trying to win a spot as the second outside receiver playing opposite Johnson. That does not include Burleson who as he said is a slot man by trade. But in the event that none of those six players step up offensive coordinator Scott Linehan knows he has a reliable fall-back plan in Burleson.

“It’s just some insurance that Linehan has” said Burleson “It’s the reason I decided to stay and I didn’t argue when they wanted to adjust my contract. I know my role here.”

Burleson 31 accepted a $2 million cut in base salary for this season and still is on the books for $5.5 million in 2014.

“If I can come in and work the slot know it like the back of my hand and just in case we need a guy on the outside and I’m the one they know I am going to run the right routes and get open and be that look” he said.

Burleson broke his leg in Week 7 last season and his presence his ability to demand defensive attention either in the slot or outside was sorely missed. But there he was on Saturday nine months after surgery fully recovered and running by younger defensive backs.