ALLEN PARK, Mich. – A surprise was waiting for Calvin Johnson when he entered the receivers’ meeting room Thursday morning at the Detroit Lions’ practice facility.
Up on the video screen was a copy of the article in which Baltimore Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam called Megatron “pretty old.”
The quotes had been widely circulated since Wednesday afternoon, but Johnson was clueless.
“He didn’t even know about it,” teammate Nate Burleson said. “I joke with Calvin all the time that he’s oblivious to a lot of stuff, which is why he stays focused because he doesn’t get into things that people say.
“We told him this morning. He just laughed. It was kind of one of those laughs like ‘we’ll-see about-that.’ He really didn’t care, but I’m pretty sure he tucked that away in his memory. He downloaded it into his mainframe. It’s good motivation.
“Especially being a rookie. Come on little buddy. Take it easy with the comments.”
For the most part, Johnson acted as if the comments were much ado about nothing, but he did have a little fun with it during a conference call Thursday afternoon.
“I am getting old,” said Johnson, 28, in his seventh NFL season. “I’ll show him what that old-man strength is about.”
Johnson will have a chance to do his talking on the field Monday night when the Lions play the Ravens at Ford Field in Detroit.
Johnson (6-foot-5, 236 pounds) ranks second in the NFL in both receiving yards (1,351) and touchdown receptions (12).
Elam (5-foot-10, 210 pounds) was the final pick of the first round coming out of Florida. He’s started the last 12 games and has 50 combined tackles, two passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.
“I don’t need motivation but anything positive, anything negative that comes at me throughout the week, you just take it, put it in the box over there for motivation and use it on (game day),” Johnson said. “It doesn’t surprise me. He doesn’t have to see me on the field. He can talk all he wants. He plays back (in the secondary). I don’t see him every play unless I run past him. I’m not worried about it.”
Asked for his evaluation of Elam after watching video of the Ravens’ defense, Johnson added, “Just safeties – nothing extraordinary. Those are definitely guys we can make plays on.”
On Wednesday, in an Associated Press story, Elam said of Johnson, “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.”
Burleson, 32, in his 11th season, had a good laugh at Elam’s expense.
“It’s like kids say the darndest things, rookies say the darndest things,” Burleson said. “I just don’t understand why you would throw shots at The Beast. I think it’s pretty funny. “We’ll make sure that we take all our proper medication to lube these old bones up and we’ll see what happens on Monday night.”
While Elam might give help over the top on Johnson, it’s the Ravens’ cornerbacks, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, who will have to deal with Megatron down in and down out.
They’re the ones who could have to pay the price all night long.
INJURY UPDATE Running back Reggie Bush, hampered by a calf injury, didn’t practice Thursday but he said he will be back on Friday.
“It was more precautionary,” Bush said. “For sure, tomorrow.”
Bush, who expects to play against the Ravens, was a late scratch Sunday after he aggravated the injury while jogging on the snowy field before the game.
Defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah also missed practice because of a shoulder injury. His status for Monday is unclear.