Even veteran receivers want to learn from Megatron

Posted Apr 18, 2014

When the Lions released Nate Burleson in a cap-saving move earlier this offseason, Calvin Johnson became the elder statesman in the Lions receiving room.

When the Detroit Lions released Nate Burleson in a cap-savings move earlier this offseason, Calvin Johnson became the elder statesman in the Lions receiving room.

Calvin JohnsonWR Calvin Johnson (Gavin Smith)

Megatron, 28, who is widely considered the best receiver in the game, is entering his eighth season in the NFL after being drafted No. 2 overall by the Lions in 2007.

Often times in the past Johnson chose to lead by example on the field and through his extremely thorough work ethic. But now he pulls rank in that meeting room and there are teammates eager to follow his lead.

Include veteran Golden Tate in that mix. Tate was the Lions No. 1 free-agent target this offseason, and despite being a veteran player in his own right entering his fifth season in the NFL, Tate says he’s already in the ear of the game's best and expects that to continue.

“I’m going to be playing opposite not only one of the best receivers to play the game, but I’m going to have a chance to not only to play with him but learn from him,” Tate said in a Sirius NFL Radio interview this week.

“There’s always something I can do to better myself, so I’ll sit right there with him and listen to everything he has to say to myself and the other receivers in the room. I’m excited to work with him.”

In Tate, the Lions think they’ve found the perfect compliment to Johnson. He has some of the best pair of hands in the NFL and the team is banking on his ability to break tackles in single coverage to lead to big plays.

Johnson has recorded at least 1,492 receiving yards each of the last three seasons, despite the team’s lack of a true No. 2 receiver to help him the last two seasons because of injuries.

“He’s a great athlete, but he’s a really great guy,” Tate said of his interaction with Johnson thus far. “He’s someone I can see myself being around on a regular basis.”

If a little bit of Johnson rubs off on Tate, and Tate can provide the playmaking opposite Johnson, the two are bound to become very close friends.