Calvin Johnson ready to face 'fresh blood' this week

Posted Sep 9, 2015

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is well-rested and ready for the Lions season opener.

If Calvin Johnson has begun to show his age at all, quarterback Matthew Stafford hasn't seen it.

“Besides getting engaged and settling down, I don’t know," Stafford said. "No, he looks pretty good to me. He’s flying around. Running, catching, jumping, doing all the stuff he’s always been able to do. He’s the same old guy to me.”

Calvin JohnsonWR Calvin Johnson (Photo: Gavin Smith / Detroit Lions)

Jim Caldwell didn’t take the bait Wednesday when asked if Johnson was still the same dominant player he’s always been now a couple weeks from his 30th birthday.

“We’ll see,” Caldwell said with a coy smile. “Take at look at him (on Sunday), you’ll see. I know one thing, he’s well-rested.”

He is certainly that after sitting out the entire preseason for the first time in his nine-year NFL career. Johnson is healthy, he’s motivated and more than anything, he’s eager to get back on the football field and strap it up against someone with a different color jersey on.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out there and going against somebody other than my own teammates,” he said.

“They kind of get the edge on you at some point during camp because you’re running a lot of the same plays. It’ll be good to go against some fresh blood.”

Just three seasons removed from setting an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards in 2012, Johnson still considers himself the same dominate player capable of leading the league in receiving.

“No doubt,” he said. “I’ve still got it in me, man. I know I’m going to turn 30, but the body feels good right now.”

Johnson is the healthiest he’s been in a couple seasons, and the Lions will need him to stay that way if they’re going to be the offense they think they’re capable of being.

Megatron missed three games last season with a high ankle sprain and was relegated to decoy duty in a number of other games. He still caught 71 passes for 1,077 yards and eight touchdowns. Healthy, the expectation is for him to have another Megatron-like season.

“If you’re getting old, you don’t leave defensive coordinators up at night,” tight end Eric Ebron said of Johnson, who’s become a mentor to Ebron in his second season.

“You just have to watch this dude. He’s different. He’s one in a million the way he’s trains and the way he does everything. You believe (that Johnson is getting old) if you want to. When Sunday comes, you’ll see the new and healthy Calvin Johnson that we’ve been seeing.”

Ebron said Johnson has heard some of the chatter regarding his decline and is “more than ready” to prove some of his detractors wrong.

“Sometimes you have to look at production over age,” said safety James Ihedigbo, who said he's seen no dropoff in Johnson's play after watching him make play after play in training camp.

Caldwell declined to give his opinion on where Johnson's standing in the league is heading into year nine.

“I’ll leave it up to him,” Caldwell said. “He does his talking on the field.”