Johnson-Talib match-up receiving attention

Posted Sep 9, 2011

Calvin Johnson was a significant piece to Detroit's 23-20 overtime win at Tampa Bay last season.

He didn't come away with a touchdown, but he did have 10 receptions for 152 yards that included more than one acrobatic, clutch catch.

"We did a lot of single-safety stuff and gave him some great looks," said Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris. "He certainly exploited us."

The story this week is that both teams will have key players back in action who weren't available for last season's match-up.

Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib was placed on Injured/Reserve the week prior with a hip injury. At the time of the injury, Talib was leading his team with six interceptions.

"They were missing a few guys, but we were too," said offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. "Every one of their guys presents a challenge because they're excellent NFL football players that we're going to have a good plan for."

This will be quarterback Matthew Stafford's first on-field look at the Tampa Bay defense.

"They're a young defensive line - they're physical," said Stafford. "Their guys really get off on the snap and do a great job of penetrating and disrupting in the backfield."

Detroit respects Tampa's talent and that respect is reciprocated.

Said Bucs safety Sean Jones to the St. Petersburg Times, "(Johnson) has a tight end body with receiver speed. He can post you up and box you out that way. Or he can beat you deep.

"We're definitely going to keep our eye on him the whole game and try to keep him under wraps. We're going to have (Talib) on him for most of the game. We're excited about that."

The Johnson-Talib match-up has been hyped all week, but Johnson is playing it down.

When asked what will make Talib such a challenging opponent, he said, "I don't know. All I know is that we are going to go out there and execute our game plan. It's all about us.

"We're not worried about what they do. If we do what we do, it's going to be fine."