2014 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

Jamarca SanfordMar 6 01:33p

New Orleans Saints SS Jamarca Sanford re-signed to a one-year contract Friday, March 6. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Brandon MarshallMar 6 01:23p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall was traded to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick, pending a physical, per a league source.

Niles PaulMar 6 12:33p

Washington Redskins TE Niles Paul re-signed Friday, March 6. Paul could earn up to a little under $10 million with the new contract.

Matt PraterMar 6 12:13p

Detroit Lions PK Matt Prater signed a three-year, $9 million contract extension Friday, March 6.

Marques ColstonMar 6 10:43a

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston restructured his contract Friday, March 6, and will return in 2015.

Reggie WayneMar 6 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne will not be re-signed for 2015, the team announced Friday, March 6.

Jerome SimpsonMar 5 05:33p

Free-agent WR Jerome Simpson (Vikings) signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5.

LaMarr WoodleyMar 5 05:13p

Oakland Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley was officially released Thursday, March 5.

Vince WilforkMar 5 01:23p

Free-agent DT Vince Wilfork (Patriots) said he still plans to play in 2015, and he could return to the New England Patriots. 'Can I still play football? Hell yea! [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 5 01:03p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's meeting with head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman Wednesday, March 4, went well after the parties spent more than four hours [ More ]

Peyton ManningMar 5 12:53p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning officially passed his physical and will return for the 2015 season.

Dwayne BoweMar 5 11:53a

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe my be cut if the team can not trade him.

Vince WilforkMar 5 09:53a

New England Patriots DT Vince Wilfork announced that the Patriots will not pick up his option for the 2015 season, which makes him a free agent.

Darnell DockettMar 5 09:53a

Free-agent DE Darnell Dockett (Cardinals) agreed with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5, according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Keith RiversMar 4 08:23p

Free-agent LB Keith Rivers (Bills) signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, March 4. Rivers will add depth to the team's linebacking group. He has plenty of [ More ]

Matt CasselMar 4 07:53p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel was traded to the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, March 4. The Bills swapped their 2015 fifth-round pick for the Vikings 2015 sixth-round draft pick. Minnesota [ More ]

Pierre ThomasMar 4 07:53p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas was released Wednesday, March 4.

Trent ColeMar 4 04:13p

Philadelphia Eagles LB Trent Cole was officially cut Wednesday, March 4.

DeMeco RyansMar 4 01:03p

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans (Achilles'), who tore his Achilles' halfway through the 2014 season, probably won't be back with the team after they acquired LB Kiko Alonso from [ More ]

Andre JohnsonMar 4 11:23a

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson has asked the team to release him this offseason.

LeSean McCoyMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Kiko AlonsoMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Tyvon BranchMar 3 05:23p

Oakland Raiders SS Tyvon Branch was officially released, as expected, Tuesday, March 3.

DeMarco MurrayMar 3 01:43p

Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent RB DeMarco Murray would likely re-sign with the Cowboys if the offer they make him is equal or similar financially to offers he receives from [ More ]

Cole BeasleyMar 3 01:13p

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $13.1 million. The extension could be worth as much as $15.1 million.

Andre JohnsonMar 2 11:03p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson was asked to accept a reduced role, but he declined and asked to be traded or cut, according to people familiar with the situation.

Bernard PollardMar 2 07:23p

Tennessee Titans SS Bernard Pollard has been informed that he will be released, according to sources familiar with the situation. Pollard asked the Titans to release him last month. [ More ]

Le'Veon BellMar 2 04:33p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell could be suspended up to four games, according to the NFL's new substance-abuse policy. A two-game suspension is standard for a DUI resulting from [ More ]

J.D. WaltonMar 2 04:13p

New York Giants C J.D. Walton was released Monday, March 2.

Lance MooreMar 2 04:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Lance Moore was released Monday, March 2.

Brad JonesMar 2 03:53p

Free-agent LB Brad Jones (Packers) signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, March 2. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Charles ClayMar 2 03:12p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay received the transition tag Monday, March 2, according to a source. The transition tag for tight ends is worth $7.071 million.

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