Packers cornerbacks bracing for challenge against Lions WR Johnson
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are bracing for another matchup with Calvin Johnson.
Twice a season, the cornerbacks brace themselves to face one of the best receivers in the NFL.
The Detroit Lions have a new coach in Jim Caldwell, but Johnson hasn’t changed. The NFC North rivals meet Sunday in Detroit.
"He’s a beast," Shields said Thursday. "You know when he does catch it, we’ve just got to tackle him."
Sounds simple enough. Yet nothing is simple about defending Detroit’s 6-foot-5 star wideout.
Johnson has 13 catches for 247 yards with two touchdowns this season. He has 71 catches for 1,163 yards and 12 scores in 12 games against Green Bay.
Shields and Williams are both 5-foot-11. While they may have the speed to keep up, the Packers’ cornerback duo can’t measure up by height with Johnson.
This makes Johnson a bit tough to tackle, so wrapping up low will be important to slow down Johnson. Watch out for the stiff-arm, too.
"When he (does) catch it, don’t let him run after the catch," Shields said. "Just get him down right there, and not let him get big plays."
Maybe the gray T-shirt that Williams wore after practice on Thursday is a sign of the matchup to come. The shirt had a picture of one of the robotic vehicle heads from the "Transformers" movie series.
Johnson’s nickname is "Megatron," the villain in the "Transformers" movies.
"It’s not intimidating. You just hope it don’t happen," Williams said. "When I see that ball in the air, I’m going to say to myself, `It’s my ball and I’m going to go get it.’ Now, if we go up and we battle for it, it’s a different story.
"That’s what the game is about — battles. I feel that I have the same amount of ability to go get the ball as anybody else," Williams added.
Now for all the consternation about Johnson, the Packers have still had success against Detroit. Green Bay is 10-2 since 2007 against the Lions when Johnson plays.
This year, the Lions have a new coach, along with a new complement for Johnson in the receiving group in Golden Tate.
"I think that it does sort of tip the scales a little bit to keep the double-coverage off of him," Caldwell said. "And obviously when that occurs, he’s pretty hard to handle. I would anticipate that teams would use double coverage and things of that nature, try to roll to his side."
The Packers also have to account for the multifaceted Reggie Bush out of the backfield. Their secondary, though, should be at full strength after safety Micah Hyde returned to practice Thursday as a full participant. He was limited on Wednesday with a knee injury.
No matter who is on the field, Johnson presents a stern test.
"If you cover a bigger guy, he’s probably going to be stronger than you. Obviously, he’s going to be bigger. You never want to be overly aggressive with him," Williams said.