Calvin Johnson ready to catch on again with Detroit Lions

Detroit's offence has not missed a beat without their star receiver, and now quarterback Matthew Stafford must figure out how to keep that rhythm going while reintegrating Johnson to the flow.
The absence of Calvin Johnson, right, helped quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions look to other players. His return from injury means Stafford and the offence must find a way to reintegrate their star receiver without losing rhythm. Gregory Shamus / AFP
The absence of Calvin Johnson, right, helped quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions look to other players. His return from injury means Stafford and the offence must find a way to reintegrate their star receiver without losing rhythm. Gregory Shamus / AFP

The biggest and best wide receiver in the game is back on the field, and the rest of the NFL should be quaking in their boots.

After sitting out three games with an ankle sprain, Calvin Johnson will suit up for the Detroit Lions (6-2) today when they host a surging Miami Dolphins (5-3) squad.

Before Johnson missed the three games, he was limited in two others because of the injury.

He was hurt during a win over the Green Bay Packers on September 21 and then aggravated the ankle again two weeks later in a loss to the Buffalo Bills.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has hard choices ahead of him, writes Aaron Gray.

Johnson’s return has come at an interesting time for the Lions.

Surprisingly, they won all three games during his absence but the meeting with Miami, who are also on a three-game win streak, matches teams expecting a berth in the play-offs.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has taken some lumps without his No 1 target but the team continues to win.

There is some substance to the suggestion that Stafford and the offence grew without Johnson.

During the past month, Stafford, who had grown heavily dependent on Johnson in their six years together, found a new reliable target in Golden Tate, who is the NFL’s fourth-leading receiver with 800 yards on 55 catches. Corey Fuller and Theo Riddick also delivered some big plays in clutch ­situations.

So with Johnson, running back Reggie Bush and possibly tight end Joseph Fauria expected to return today, Stafford has the unexpected task of reintroducing the game’s best receiver into the offence while not disrupting the magic they found in their previous three games.

Players such as Tate, Bush and others still need their touches but they will not come at the expense of Johnson.

“The more experience and the better everybody else plays, the less you feel like you have to get No 81 the ball,” Stafford said. “But it’s still conducive to playing good offence to get the best receiver on the planet the ball as much as you can, so we’ll continue to try and do that, as well.”

The Dolphins have the NFL’s third-ranked defence in both points and yards allowed, and are second in the league in pass defence, allowing an average of just 201.1 yards per game.

Welcome back, Mr Johnson.

Your homecoming game should be interesting.

agray@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: November 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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