Lions coach hopes team can work out any issues with Johnson

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws during an NFL football practice in Allen Park, Mich., Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell hopes the franchise’s relationship with Calvin Johnson will eventually improve.

Johnson told the Detroit Free Press over the weekend that he felt he should have been treated better as he left the Lions. The star receiver retired following the 2015 season.

Caldwell spoke to reporters Wednesday at an organized team activity, and he said the organization – from owner Martha Ford on down – was concerned about Johnson’s comments.

”We’re all concerned about it, anytime that we hear that one of our alumni is not happy,” Caldwell said.

”Particularly how we feel about our alumni around here. One of the things I think you’ve probably noticed, at least since I’ve been here – our practices are open to all our alumni. They can come anytime, any day.”

Johnson didn’t go into specifics with the Free Press about what treatment by the team left him unsatisfied.

”I don’t even like to talk Lions too much just because the way our relationship ended,” he said.

Johnson played his entire nine-season career with Detroit.

”I just didn’t feel like I was treated the way I should have been treated on the way out. That’s all,” he said. ”I mean, it’s all good. I’m not tripping. I don’t feel any kind of way, just hey, that’s what they did.”

Johnson caught 88 passes for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns in his final season. He retired at age 30, bringing back memories of the way Barry Sanders stopped playing when he was still one of the game’s stars.

Caldwell said he’s hopeful the Lions and Johnson can work out whatever their differences may be.

”Playing in the National Football League for a team is like a family. Family sometimes have disagreements. They look at things a little differently,” Caldwell said. ”I have grown children. Sometimes we look at things a little differently and we hash them out and talk them out.

”There’s dialogue, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love them, but we get the differences worked out. And I think the same thing will happen in this situation.”

Caldwell said he still texts Johnson often and stays in touch.

”I think perhaps this whole thing will bring about a little bit more dialogue,” he said. ”Now, how long will that take? I’m not certain. I’m not putting any parameters on it, but I think there will probably be a little discussion, which I think will be a good thing.”

NOTES: Caldwell was asked about the NFL’s decision to relax its restrictions on touchdown celebrations. ”I think you’ll see some pretty creative things out there,” Caldwell said. ”You give those guys a little time to get creative and they’ll come up with a few things.” … Tight end Eric Ebron sounded pleased with the change. ”Hopefully have more than one touchdown this season – but I’m definitely with that, and everything that it brings to the table,” Ebron said. ”It gives us a chance to keep our fans happy.”

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