Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford told ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" Tuesday that he had an inkling early on last season that Calvin Johnson was leaning toward retirement.
"It's going to be a different game without him, obviously" Stafford said. "Teams treated him way different than they do other receivers in the league."
But, like everyone else in Allen Park, Stafford has moved on and is using this training camp as a opportunity to find new things this Lions offense can be good at.
Now entering his eighth NFL season, and his first without Megatron, he said he's enjoying the competition that's developing at receiver thus far in training camp.
"There's obviously not that major attention from a defense on one player," Stafford said. "But it's also been really fun to watch our guys compete.
"I've told people this, with Calvin catching whatever 80 balls, 90 balls a year for a ton of yards, those opportunities are now going to other people and the guys on our team right now are fighting for those opportunities and watching them compete every day for those passes.
"The more they get open, the more they catch the ball and make big plays, the more I'm going to throw it to them. Those guys are competing right now and doing a heck of a job trying to earn those opportunities from me."
The Lions have only had four days of practice in training camp, but already veteran newcomers Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin have shown to be playmakers.
"I'm lucky, both of those guys are really smart, talented players," Stafford said. "Anquan came in right before training camp and he's done a heck of a job the first four days. When I talk to him and we converse about what we're seeing on the field, it makes sense to him and it makes sense to me."
"I've had a little more time with Marvin given the offseason and all of that, but both of those guys are really talented guys and I think they're going to help us out a lot."
Stafford also touched on a number of other topics in the eight-minute interview:
On what he wants to accomplish in training camp:
"For me, as a quarterback, it's get our team in a right position to win. I think there's a little added responsibility at our position and this year is no different. Every year you have a new team. There is so much turnover in the NFL. It's establishing that team and an identity and what you're going to be. For me, camp is a huge portion of that."
His relationship with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter:
"For me and Jim Bob, we saw the game the same way. That's a huge part of it when it comes to quarterback and offensive coordinator. We put a new offense in half way through the season and that's tough to deal with, but our coaching staff did a great job of adjusting and making it work."
Biggest change in camp from his rookie season:
"Oh, man, for me, I was swimming (as a rookie). The 2008 year before I got drafted we were an 0-16 team. We had just hired a new head coach. I would rep with the one's in the morning, two's in the afternoon and the three's the next morning. It was crazy trying to figure it out and get it right."
Biggest change in camp from an NFL perspective:
"Just the way that training camps are set up. My first couple years in the league it was two a days full pads both practices during the day and now its centered a little bit more on getting ready for the season rather than beat yourself down. There's definitely some perks to having camp the way it is now. You feel a whole let better going through it but you still get your work done. The setup of camp has been a huge change."