Notebook: Record wouldn't be 'hollow' for Johnson; defending Reggie Wayne

Posted Nov 29, 2012

Johnson might not know Rice personally, but it would be some kind of honor to have Johnson's name above Rice in any way, shape or form.

Receiver Calvin Johnson has never met Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.

Someone should make that happen. The game's all-time best receiver (Rice) should really meet the current game's best receiver.

Johnson needs to average 118.4 yards per game (591 total) over the last five games to beat Rice's single-season record of 1,848 yards set in 1995.

"I can't say I know him at all really," Johnson said of Rice, who was voted the greatest player of all time by the NFL Network.

"I didn't know where I stood as far as (beating the record) goes but my thing is just keep on grinding like we've been doing. Of course you can't help it since people mentioned it, that's in the back of your mind. Keep doing what I'm doing, man, and if it happens it happens. That would be great."

Johnson might not know Rice personally, but it would be some kind of honor to have Johnson's name above Rice in any way, shape or form. Even if the record were to come in a season where the Lions don't live up to expectations and miss the playoffs.

"If it was to happen, it wouldn't be hollow at all because of all the work we put into it," Johnson said. "It's not like we're coming out here dogging it every day. We've been putting in good work, just been grinding so it would be a feat for that to happen."

There would be nothing "hollow" about breaking an all-time great's record.

Look at it this way, Rice probably wasn't triple covered in his career as much as Johnson is in a single game. Johnson has seen just about every coverage imaginable.

"It is a testament to Matt (Stafford), our offensive staff putting together things formation wise, things like that, to get him the ball because, quite honestly, he's getting triple covered and has been since I've been here," said Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan

"Even last year he was, he ended up with over 1,600 (yards) and 16 touchdowns. This year he's got quite a bit of production from a yardage standpoint. Touchdowns are starting to come around. He's missed out on (some just) short getting in there. But if there's a better receiver in football you'd have to show me who he is."

Until last week vs. Houston and Andre Johnson (188 yards), the Lions had done a good job this season of containing some of the league's best receivers.

Cornerback Chris Houston has been the big reason for that, as he's played heads up against the opponents' best receiver dating back to Week 3 at Tennessee.

That isn't likely to be the case this week against the Colts' Reggie Wayne, who leads the AFC with 1,105 receiving yards.

The Colts do a great job of moving Wayne around and he's made a majority of his 84 catches from the slot.

"I think any time you have a receiver of Reggie's quality, you don't want him sitting in one spot," Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians said in a conference call this week. "I mean, it was great when he was sitting in one spot and he had Marvin Harrison on the other side and Dallas Clark in the middle and all the great players that were within that offense.

"It's basically been a rookie year for Reggie. I mean, he stood on the left side of the offense for years and back in the spring when he started running routes on the right side he said, ‘My feet don't want to work. I don't work this way.' Then being in the slot and being in motion, he's bought into everything we've asked him to do and this all paid off. His hard work and dedication has paid off to a great season."

When Wayne is in the slot, it's more likely that Jacob Lacey or Drayton Florence will be responsible for him.

Houston said he doesn't expect to see a whole lot of Wayne lined up across from him on Sunday.

We'll see how the other guys hold up.

While receiver Titus Young and some of his behavioral issues have dominated the headlines of late, it's good to see some other young players, who have had issues with maturity in their past, too, moving past those incidents and having productive seasons. Namely second-year players Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure.

"You know what, I still like to look at Nick as a developing player," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "There is still more that he can do.

"A lot like (RB Mikel) Leshoure, he's still working through some inconsistencies, but both of those players have flashed some really good stuff and have been productive. The big thing is trying to maintain consistency from week-to-week. Put one good performance over the top of the other and that's a challenge of any young player (or) rookie.

"There's still more that Nick can give us, there's still more that Leshoure can give us, (that's the case for) most of our young players."

Fairley has three sacks and six tackles for loss over the last three games.

Leshoure leads the team with six touchdowns.

They both seem to have moved beyond off-the-field incidents that got them into hot water this offseason. In Leshoure's case, incidents that got him suspended for the first two games of the season.

That's really all you can ask of a young player -- learn from mistakes and be productive. Fairley and Leshoure have done that.