2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Lions' Stafford, Johnson haven't connected on a TD

By LARRY LAGE - AP Sports Writer
    2012-10-04 05:01

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) - Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson were basically unstoppable early last season.

Detroit's dynamic duo connected for two touchdowns in each of the first four games and nine times in five games to lift the team to a 5-0 start.

The Lions are 1-3 this season for many reasons. One of them is that opponents have turned the pair into a dud - Stafford hasn't thrown a TD pass to Johnson yet.

``I'm not real surprised,'' Johnson said Wednesday. ``We know teams aren't going to let you do what you did last year. We have to find a different way.''

The Minnesota Vikings were the latest team to keep Johnson out of the end zone - once hitting him hard to jar the football loose on what would've been a TD - by lining up a linebacker or defensive back close to him at the line with another defender or two behind to deter Detroit from throwing deep.

``Minnesota did a good job of taking it away and breaking up some passes that we threw down the field to Calvin,'' Stafford said.

Johnson was targeted 12 times for the third straight game, but had five receptions for 54 yards, both season lows. In four games, he has 29 receptions for 423 yards and a TD from Shaun Hill, who replaced Stafford late in a loss at Tennessee.

At this rate, it'll be hard for Johnson or Stafford to approach what they did statistically last season.

Johnson caught 96 passes for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 TDs, joining Jerry Rice and Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season. Johnson became the only player in league history to catch nine TDs in his first five games of a season. That sensational start and strong finish helped him get an eight-year contract worth up to $132 million during the offseason.

After throwing 41 TDs and 16 interceptions last season, Stafford has fewer TD passes (three) than interceptions (four) this year. He estimated the team has faced man-to-man coverage more often, with teams using a variety of zone schemes to prevent big plays through the air.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said every game plan is designed to keep Johnson out of the end zone, but added the offense can still be effective and produce points without him making TD catches.

``We don't have any goals for how many touchdowns Calvin and Matthew are going to connect for,'' Schwartz said. ``What we want to do is score - whether it's Calvin or anybody else. We don't play fantasy football.''

The Lions' reality on defense will likely be much better if safety Louis Delmas can play after their bye on Oct. 14 at Philadelphia for the first time this season. Delmas, who had surgery on his left knee nearly two months ago, practiced Wednesday for the first time since early in training camp.

Delmas said it will be up to coaches to determine if he'll play against the Eagles, but was encouraged by how he felt backpedaling, shuffling and sprinting at full speed during individual drills.

``I felt good out there,'' he said.

The Lions desperately need the veteran in their shaky secondary, and the Lions like Delmas for his leadership, too.

``He's a big-time playmaker,'' defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. ``And, he brings an attitude and energy to our team that really picks everyone up.''

NOTES: Detroit also got S Amari Spievey (groin) back on the field. ... The Lions practiced without DE Cliff Avril, LBs Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant, OLs Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims, TE Brandon Pettigrew and S John Wendling, but Schwartz said none of those players has a long-term injury. ... The Lions signed CB Lionel Smith to their practice squad. Smith was among the Dallas Cowboys' final cuts this year.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Richard RodgersJul 1 05:03p

Green Bay Packers TE Richard Rodgers could see more playing time in 2015, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Rodgers played 528 snaps, while fellow TE Andrew Quarless played [ More ]

Rob HouslerJun 30 03:13p

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge, Rob Housler and Jim Dray could all end up taking over for TE Jordan Cameron, who is now with the Miami Dolphins. Head coach [ More ]

Sam BradfordJun 29 05:22p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be in the final phase of his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament once training camp begins. Bradford's second [ More ]

Charles JohnsonJun 29 02:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson appears to have everything it takes to produce in the NFL, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. 'He's got great work ethic, and [ More ]

C.J. SpillerJun 28 09:02p

New Orleans Saints RB C.J. Spiller has a perfect skill-set for head coach Sean Payton's system, which relies on getting the ball to players in space, according Chris Wesseling [ More ]

Tony MoeakiJun 25 07:12p

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Moeaki will compete with TE Jacob Tamme for the Falcons' starting tight end job during training camp. QB Matt Ryan praised both tight ends for [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJun 25 03:52p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin's reported weight gain this offseason is being overblown, according to general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman expects Benjamin to be ready to go for training [ More ]

Antoine CasonJun 25 03:03a

Free-agent CB Antoine Cason (foot) will miss the 2015 season due to surgery he underwent on Tuesday, June 23. Cason (Ravens) did not specify what type of surgery he [ More ]

Marvin JonesJun 24 09:13p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (ankle, foot) did not play in 2014 due to multiple foot and ankle issues, but he is healthy and was impressive in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.

Keith WenningJun 24 02:43p

Free-agent QB Keith Wenning (Ravens) signed with the Cincinnati Bengals Wednesday, June 24. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Pierre GarconJun 24 02:23p

Washington Redskins WR Pierre Garcon could be featured more often in the passing game this season based on the offseason workouts. Garcon often lined up to the right of [ More ]

Martavis BryantJun 24 01:43p

Pittsburgh Steelers WRs Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant are expected to compete for the No. 2 wide receiver job during training camp. Both players performed well during offseason workouts.

Peyton ManningJun 24 11:53a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the subject of preliminary trade discussions with the Houston Texans, according to a source. The talks occurred before Manning restructured his deal and [ More ]

Rueben RandleJun 24 10:53a

New York Giants WR Rueben Randle was the best receiver on the field by a wide margin during spring practices, in the opinion of beat writer Jordan Ranaan. Randle [ More ]

Chris IvoryJun 24 10:43a

New York Jets RB Chris Ivory is listed as the starting running back entering training camp, according to beat writer Rich Cimini's unofficial depth chart. RB Bilal Powell is [ More ]

Devonta FreemanJun 23 10:22a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman enters training camp ahead of RB Tevin Coleman on the depth chart.

Joseph RandleJun 23 10:02a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle appears to be the clear leader at running back, and it's his job to lose in training camp.

Ahmad BradshawJun 22 11:32p

Free-agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts) has been suspended one game for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. If he signs with a team he must sit out for the first week.

Terrelle PryorJun 22 04:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Terrelle Pryor was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns Monday, June 22, according to a source.

Fred DavisJun 19 06:02p

New England Patriots TE Fred Davis was released Friday, June 19.

Dennis PittaJun 19 02:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was not medically cleared to practice in minicamp as he continues to recover from his second dislocated and fractured hip in as many [ More ]

Isaiah CrowellJun 19 01:22p

Cleveland Browns RB Isaiah Crowell could be the workhorse back if his ball security improves, according to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

Devonta FreemanJun 19 01:12p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman will be used in a lot of different ways, including as a receiver, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'I knew Devonta had terrific [ More ]

Chris OgbonnayaJun 19 11:32a

Free-agent RB Chris Ogbonnaya (Giants) announced his retirement Friday, June 19.

John MoffittJun 18 11:02p

Free-agent OG John Moffitt unretired Wednesday, June 17, and cleared waivers Thursday, June 18. He is free to sign with a team of his choosing. The Philadelphia Eagles, Miami [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 09:32p

Free-agent QB Terrelle Pryor is going to give it a shot at playing wide receiver in the NFL. Some teams have already expressed an interest.

Allen RobinsonJun 18 09:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson was described as 'unbelievable' by QB Blake Bortles Thursday, June 18. 'He's definitely a threat now in the red zone. ... He's physical. He [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 05:32p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Terrelle Pryor was waived Thursday, June 18.

Taylor ThompsonJun 18 05:32p

Tennesse Titans TE Taylor Thompson was waived Thursday, June 18.

Matthew MulliganJun 18 04:32p

Free-agent TE Matthew Mulligan (Titans) signed an undisclosed contract with the Buffalo Bills Thursday, June 18.

Carlton MitchellJun 18 04:22p

Free-agent WR Carlton Mitchell (Buccaneers) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, June 18. WR Shane Wynn was waived.

Daniel ThomasJun 18 04:12p

Free-agent RB Daniel Thomas (Dolphins) signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears Thursday, June 18. Financial terms were not disclosed.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group