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

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Philip RiversDec 17 06:13p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest, back) took part in a walkthrough Wednesday, Dec. 17, but didn't take part in practice, but he fully expects to play in [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 05:43p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (knee, back) received good news from his MRI results, but he said it would take a miracle for him to play in Week [ More ]

Robbie GouldDec 17 04:53p

Chicago Bears PK Robbie Gould (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Cam NewtonDec 17 04:13p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Frank GoreDec 17 03:13p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) visited with a doctor at the team's facility Tuesday, Dec. 16, as part of the NFL's concussion protocol. Gore did not participate [ More ]

Ryan MathewsDec 17 02:33p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is not participating in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

C.J. SpillerDec 17 02:13p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Blake BortlesDec 17 01:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, and is listed as questionable for Week 16.

Julio JonesDec 17 01:43p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday, Dec. 17.

DeMarco MurrayDec 17 01:33p

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) wasn't expected to do a lot at practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, but he took first-team snaps at running back [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 17 01:23p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) returned to practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, and he worked with the second-team offense in the portion of practice open to the media. QB [ More ]

DeMarco MurrayDec 17 12:43p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is participating in individual drills during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

T Y HiltonDec 17 12:23p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating during the media-access portion of practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Rashad JenningsDec 17 11:23a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) will not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Keenan AllenDec 17 11:03a

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone, ankle) said he is taking his injuries 'week to week.'

Denard RobinsonDec 17 10:13a

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson (foot) has a partially torn ligament in his foot, according to head coach Gus Bradley. Recovery time is six to eight weeks, but he [ More ]

Marc TrestmanDec 16 09:33p

The Chicago Bears are expected to fire head coach Marc Trestman, according to a source. The team's ownership met Tuesday, Dec. 16, after the team's Week 15 loss against [ More ]

Julio JonesDec 16 09:33p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is expected to be ready to play in Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints. However, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter indicated the possibility [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerDec 16 06:43p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger (shoulder) missed practice for the second straight day Tuesday, Dec. 16.

DeMarco MurrayDec 16 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) will likely be a game-time decision against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16, according to owner Jerry Jones. Jones said the team is [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 16 05:33p

Denver Broncos TE Virgil Green continued to lead the team's tight ends in snaps with 50 in Week 15 against the San Diego Chargers, even with TE Julius Thomas [ More ]

Aaron RodgersDec 16 05:23p

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is 0-2 with a 35.6 total quarterback rating at Tampa Bay in his career. He threw three interceptions in each of those games.

Blake BortlesDec 16 04:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) was jogging, throwing and moving around well while being limited at practice Thursday, Dec. 16. He showed no signs of being limited by [ More ]

Colt McCoyDec 16 04:23p

Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (neck) was told by doctors that he only needs two to three weeks for the aggravated nerve in his neck [ More ]

Keenan AllenDec 16 04:13p

Updating a previous report, San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone) could be placed on Reserve/Injured if the team is eliminated from playoff contention. Allen will not play this [ More ]

Ryan MathewsDec 16 02:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Colt McCoyDec 16 02:33p

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (neck) was placed on season-ending Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Dec. 16, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Keenan AllenDec 16 02:33p

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone) suffered a broken collarbone in Week 15 and is not expected to play this week. Surgery is not planned at this point [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group