NOTEBOOK: Johnson on playing Sunday; Veldman going home and Levy’s Pro Bowl chances

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Calvin Johnson said he’s getting better and the decision to play on Sunday will be both his and the coaches

Calvin Johnson’s body might be telling him to sit out Sunday’s game in Minnesota, but he’s not listening just yet.

Johnson missed practice again on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday’s afternoon practice. The Lions have monitored his practice schedule all year long, in fact, as he’s battled knee and ankle injuries.

Johnson has only missed one game, but he’s been severely limited in two others, including last week’s overtime loss to the Giants where he played in only 56 percent of the offensive snaps.

Still, he has 84 catches for 1,492 yards with 12 touchdowns on the year, though it’s been a struggle at times.

Can he muster up one more week? Should he try to?

"I’m getting better," Johnson said Thursday.

"Every game is important. You want to finish strong and finish on the right note without leaving anything out there on the field. Like I said, we’ll make that decision when the time comes."

He also said the decision would be a two-way street and he’d have input on the final decision to play or sit.

"It’s a two way discussion," he said. "It’s a two way role."


Matt Veldman grew up 20 minutes northwest of Minneapolis and the Metrodome in the small town of Medina, which boasted a population of 4,892 in the last U.S. Census.

Veldman, who grew up a Vikings fan, saw his first NFL game in the Metrodome and will now play in his first game there, too.

The Lions promoted him from the practice squad to the active roster on Thursday because of injuries that forced Brandon Pettigrew and Dorin Dickerson to the injured reserve list.

"It means a lot," Veldman said of playing his first game in Minnesota. "It really means a lot to me to be able to play my first game in front of my family. It really means more than I can say."

Veldman was set to make the Jacksonville Jaguars opening day roster last year as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State, but tore his ACL in the team’s third preseason game. His first game would have been in Minnesota Week 1.

Veldman was in training camp with the Lions earlier this year and spent time on Tampa Bay’s practice squad for a time before finally getting this opportunity on the Lions active roster.

"I’ve played a little league game (at the Metrodome)," he said. "I’ve played high school games there. At NDSU we played the University of Minnesota there. And now I’ll play a pro game there."

DeAndre LevyLB DeAndre Levy (Photo: Gavin Smith)


The NFL will announce Pro Bowl selections at 9 p.m. Friday and head coach Jim Schwartz talked briefly this week on the chances linebacker DeAndre Levy becoming the first Lions Pro Bowl linebacker since Stephen Boyd in 2000.

"If we had a vote he’s a very valuable member of our team," Schwartz said. "He’s developed every year. He’s been great around the football.

"But when you’re competing with other outside linebackers, he’s competing with a lot of guys who are 3-4 outside linebackers who have a lot of sacks. I mean, there’s a lot of stats that go into it also, plus he’s a relatively new name in the mix."

Levy is tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions and has 112 tackles this year. He was 10th among outside linebackers in the fan-voting results last week.

"The vote doesn’t always reflect who’s the most deserving," Schwartz said. "But he’s had an outstanding year for us."