Found October 14, 2013 on
Fox Sports Detroit:
ALLEN PARK, Mich. When healthy, Calvin Johnson rarely misses a play.
It was a little different story Sunday in Cleveland. Because of an ailing right knee, Johnson was limited to 38 of the teams 74 offensive plays or 51.4 percent of the time.
Over the first three weeks, before the knee became such an issue, he played in all but three of the 205 plays.
This time, the Lions had to pick and choose their spots to use him. Johnson ended up with three receptions for 25 yards in a 31-17 victory.
It was encouraging that he was able to get on the field for us, coach Jim Schwartz said Monday at his weekly news conference. Even though he didnt make a lot of plays he affected the game.
He made a couple big first-down catches. They interfered with him on the one play down in the red zone because he was in position to make a potential touchdown catch. He also affected the coverage and opened up some other guys.
Schwartz wouldnt comment on how Johnsons knee, which forced him to sit out the previous week, had responded the day after the game.
It was sore after the game, but hes been sore after practice, Schwartz said. Its too soon to really know if it was any worse or any better than its been.
What was encouraging is that Johnson apparently felt better as the game went on and was able to increase his workload after halftime.
We had planned on just using him in certain situations, Schwartz said. Theres some things that we thought he could still do and some things that we didnt want to put him in that situation.
"It was really going just by play call. In the second half, he was feeling OK and he played a little bit more.
Schwartz gave some of the credit for tight end Joseph Faurias three touchdowns to Johnson.
With the two of them Johnson at 6-foot-5 and Fauria at 6-7 the Lions have become a pick-your-poison threat deep in the other teams territory.
Schwartz, in fact, questions how much teams can do differently to try to contain Fauria down there.
If he (Fauria) starts to get more attention, somebodys got to get less, Schwartz said. Generally, thats Calvin for us. Not many defenses want to do that.
A lots been made of the dynamic between Reggie (Bush) and Calvin. I think there is, in the red zone particularly, another dynamic there (between Johnson and Fauria) that can force defenses to be spread thin a little bit.
Schwartz elaborated on the difficulty that the addition of Fauria with his height and good hands has created for defenses near the goal line.
If you want to stop the run (in the red zone) and youve got to get eight guys in the box, it leaves you one guy that you can double, Schwartz explained. If that goes to Calvin then a guy like Joe or any of our other potential receivers on the play is singled up.
If you want to double both of them, youre going to be light in the run game. I think weve proven that we can run the ball across the goal line just as well as throw it.
Any time you have more playmakers on the field and more size mismatches and in that case, it is a size mismatch it makes it harder for the defense to defend everything.
It should only make matters even worse for them when Johnson returns to full strength.
QUOTING THE COACH
--- On rookie Sam Martins kickoffs, which have had good hang time, distance and location, often resulting in touchbacks:
Honestly, our kickoff coverage, you could have 10 guys named Schwartz and Sam kicking it.
--- On linebacker Stephen Tulloch passionate halftime speech to his teammates:
Its always better when it comes from players on the team, whatever it is. I think thats the sign of true leadership when players sort of handle things before coaches really get involved.
"If that (the second-half comeback) had to do with him gathering the team up then Im all for it.
--- On security in Cleveland practicing how to run down a streaker Sunday after one got loose and was tackled by Lions running back Joique Bell during a preseason game between the teams:
It actually caught me by surprise. I didnt know it was a drill at first. I was like Why is someone running out on the field four hours before the game?
Im glad they work on it. That way it keeps our players from having to step in and try to handle embarrassing situations like that.
Running back Montell Owens, a strong special-teams player, is expected to return to practice this week. However, he remains on the short-term injured list because of a knee injury sustained during the preseason and wont be eligible to be activated until the Lions game at Chicago on November 10.
BEST OF MAXIM
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