When Tampa Bay travels to Ford Field Sunday, the premiere matchup will be Lions receiver
"That’s the challenge and the fun part about what we do to have a matchup like this," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "This is what people pay money to go watch."
The pair have matched up once before in 2010, when Revis held Johnson to one catch for 13 yards in a come-from-behind New York Jets victory at Ford Field.
"I mean one catch for 13 yards, what do you think?" Revis said in a conference call this week when asked if he won the first matchup.
Johnson is expecting a much different outcome this time around, however. He's a much different receiver than he was four years ago. He's evolved into one of the top weapons in all of football over the last years.
"There’s not one specific thing that I worked on," Johnson said of how his game has evolved. "Catching the ball, working on my routes, footwork, working on getting off the line of scrimmage."
It’s all better since the last time Revis Island came to town.
There has been some debate whether or not Revis is still considered the best cornerback in the NFL coming off a torn ACL.
Arizona’s Patrick Peterson and Seattle’s Richard Sherman have staked claim to the title, but Revis still might be the best all-around corner of the bunch. He combines Sherman’s physicality and Peterson’s speed into one package.
Revis said he’s not yet 100 percent recovered, but it’s hard to tell the way he’s been playing of late.
"One thing he does really well is he plays the ball," Johnson said of Revis. "He can see like a receiver and catch it. He can make plays on the ball. He has quite a few pass deflections as well this year. Just got to be on point.
"He runs well. He’s strong. He’s a lot stronger than a normal corner you would face on a regular day. Other than that, he’s just another corner."
That mentality might be different than in 2010, too. Johnson sees the opponents best cornerback every week and it does't seem to faze him one bit.
Whoever gets the better of Sunday’s Johnson vs. Revis matchup could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the game.
"I know that will be a big matchup in this game," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "When it’s all said and done, that will be a key component in this game. I think we have been pretty creative in still getting Calvin the ball.
"Calvin has changed a lot since the first couple of years when I was here. He plays out of all three positions now. He runs a lot more inside routes. Where early on, particularly the first couple of years in his career, he was strictly a down-the-field threat. He’s become an underneath threat, run after the catch. There are a lot of different ways that he can do that. He’s become a complete player and (Darrelle) Revis is already a complete player."
TAMPA’S BIG LOSS
The Bucs spent a considerable amount of resources ($41.25 million) to sign safety Dashon Goldson to help complete their secondary.
The hard-hitting safety has been a good acquisition and they’ll certainly miss him Sunday vs. the Lions’ No. 3 passing offense in the NFL.
Goldson was suspended one game for last week’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Atlanta receiver Roddy White. Goldson is a repeat offender when it comes to illegal hits on defenseless receivers.
The suspension has the Bucs scrambling a bit and it’ll effect their nickel and specialty packages more than anything.
"He’s, we call them a vacuum cleaner, he’s a guy that makes a lot of tackles all over the field that covers up guys' mistakes in front of him," Schwartz said of Goldson.
"You have to see how that will affect their nickel packages and how they want to replace Goldson and if that moves (Safety Mark) Barron around, we’re prepared for just about everything.
"He’s been a really good player for them. He was a good player at San Francisco, a physical player. I think that it will be interesting to see how they matchup their sub packages without him on the field."
It's huge for the Lions offense because it bumps everyone back into their original roles and adds a playmaking veteran to the offense (something they could have used last week in Pittsburgh).
"He brings a lot of things that aren’t in the boxscore," Linehan said. "His leadership and his energy. Just being able to have that in the huddle brings confidence to the group."