Ravens S Elam on Calvin Johnson: ‘He’s pretty old’
Ravens safety Matt Elam nearly ran out of breath trying to come
up with words to describe wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the main
object of focus for Baltimore’s defensive backfield Monday night in
”Big, fast, athletic, unstoppable, freak,” Elam said.
Curiously, Elam went in another direction when asked how best to
cover the 28-year-old Johnson, who’s amassed a club-record 9,184
yards receiving and 67 touchdowns in less than seven years.
”He’s pretty old, so I don’t know how physical he’ll be,” Elam
said. ”He’s a big guy, but he’s older. I guess when they get older
they’re not going to be as physical, you know what I’m saying?
We’re going to have to be physical, make him uncomfortable.”
Elam is six years younger than Johnson, but he’s also seven
inches shorter and around 25 pounds lighter. So he might not want
to test his theory about Johnson’s physicality in a 1-on-1
situation in the open field.
The misinformed rookie can only hope the rest of the defensive
backfield does its part to prevent that from happening.
”You’ve got to know when it’s time to double him, when it’s
time to triple-team him,” Elam said. ”You’ve got to keep your eye
on him, because (Detroit quarterback Matthew) Stafford wants to get
the ball to him.”
Ravens defensive back Chykie Brown, who’s used as a backup, says
the Ravens can’t afford to let Johnson’s reputation get in the way
of their effort to keep him from having an impact on the game.
”We’re not going to get scared because of the name on the back
of his jersey,” Brown said. ”He puts his pants on just like we
do. We’ve got to out there and do us – get physical on him, play
tough on him.”
Johnson is arguably the most dangerous receiver in the NFL, and
the Ravens have yielded 18 plays this season of at least 40 yards –
including a 79-yard touchdown last Sunday to Minnesota’s
Cordarrelle Patterson, who finished with 141 yards in the snow.
Baltimore’s pass defense will be severely tested by Johnson,
who, despite of Elam’s assessment, does not appear to be anywhere
close to being over the hill.
”Megatron. Anytime someone has a nickname like that, you know,
kid’s real,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who’s been
around long enough to know the value of showing Johnson his full
respect. ”He’s probably, arguably the best receiver in the game,
and it’s going to take all 11 guys to tend to him.”
If Suggs can put the pressure on Stafford, then Johnson will
have a more difficult time getting free.
”The pass rush is going to be key,” Suggs said. ”But it’s
also fun. You get to play against a guy like that, so I think we’re
definitely looking forward to the challenge. And not only that,
it’s going to be a big stage, and this guy has a tendency of having
big games on big stages. So we get to see how we fare.”
Cornerback Jimmy Smith is expected to draw the assignment of
covering Johnson off the line of scrimmage, and Suggs intends to
see that Smith gets some help.
”The front four, us, we’re going to do our job in making sure
he don’t have to cover him for long periods of time,” Suggs
If Johnson gets free, the Ravens (7-6) will have a difficult
time extending their three-game winning streak.
”He can be a problem, a game-wrecker,” Elam said. ”We’ve got
to do our job and execute.”