Calvin Johnson has been Detroit Lions' lone star last 2 seasons
8:05 PM, Jul 26, 2013
11:55 PM, Jul 26, 2013
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -- Calvin Johnson has given the Detroit Lions something to be proud of the past two years.
He's probably the only person who can say that.
The humble wide receiver, though, would be the last one to boast about himself.
"Without saying anything, Calvin speaks volumes," teammate Nate Burleson said. "It's amazing. He can show up day to day and not say anything and still be the brightest star in the galaxy.
"And nowadays, that's something you don't see often."
Johnson broke one of Jerry Rice's single-season records last year with 1,964 yards receiving. He also tied Rice's personal mark with an NFL-leading 122 receptions. But Johnson couldn't truly celebrate because the Lions lost their last eight games to finish 4-12.
"It hurts when you don't win," he said Friday after signing a slew of autographs following the team's first practice.
Johnson could rejoice a bit in 2011 when he helped Detroit end is 11-year postseason drought after leading the league in yards receiving and making the All-Pro team for the first of two straight seasons.
Johnson said he still can get even better.
And, that's a scary thought for the rest of the NFL.
While Johnson made a lot of catches, deep while well-covered and short before the defense could get set, he let one pass go through his hands in the end zone.
"Stuff like that shows me I have to sharpen up," he said. "It's a learning experience because you can't relax out here. That one drop messed up my practice. That's going to mess up the whole day. I relaxed a little bit and it went off my fingertips."
During a drill earlier in the day, instead of standing in line he jogged about 15 yards away from his position group to pick up a football and toss it to a coach. It was just a simple gesture, but it was the latest example he put on display to prove he doesn't look at himself as a coddled superstar.
Instead of jogging on some routes, he sprints. Instead of letting some errant passes get away, he leaps or twists and turns to try to make catches as if he's trying impress the coaches enough to make the team.
"There's a stereotype of diva wide receivers, and Calvin breaks a lot of stereotypes," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. "(Six-foot-5) guys aren't supposed to run that fast. And 240-pound guys aren't supposed to have the agility that he has.
"We're really, really proud to have him on our team, and he's obviously a difference-maker on the field. It doesn't take one training camp practice to see that."
And even though Johnson looks like he couldn't get in better shape, he insisted he has work to do on his body.
"I'm trying to get in the best condition I can to get ready for the games," he said. "I'm trying to limit my mistakes as much as possible. I always strive for perfection even though I can never reach perfection."
NOTES: The Lions put WR Devin Thomas and OG Leroy Harris on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and DE Ronnell Lewis on active, non-football Injury list. ... Detroit signed DT Andre Fluellen, two months after the former Lions and Dolphins reserve was cut by the Bears. ... S Louis Delmas wore a brace on his surgically repaired right knee and went through practice until standing on the sideline while teammates went through 7-on-7 and full-team drills. Schwartz said Delmas will likely rest on Saturday before he practices Sunday, perhaps with an increased work load. Delmas said he felt good, adding he has to stay patient as the team takes a cautious approach to his time on the field. ... DE Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, the No. 5 overall pick in the NFL draft, was knocked out of two drills with an injured left ankle and right leg and tried to practice some more after being evaluated. "I wanted to go in, but coach pulled me out," Ansah said. ... Lions owner William Clay Ford watched practice. "It's important for our players to see him out here, and know how high expectations he has for the team," Schwartz said. ... Season-ticket holders attended the team's first practice and will have access Saturday and Sunday before the general public gets a chance to take its first peek Monday.