Calvin Johnson says he'll play

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions star wide receiver Calvin Johnson said he will play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins after missing the last three games with an ankle injury.

After five weeks of being questionable and testing his right ankle over and over again, Johnson laughed Wednesday when asked if he expects to play against Miami.

"Yeah," Johnson said, able to say that for sure for the first time since the third week of the season.

It was in Week 3 when Johnson initially suffered his high right ankle sprain against the Green Bay Packers. He played on a limited basis the next two weeks before aggravating the injury in Week 5 against Buffalo.

At that point, the Lions shut him down for the past month where he missed three straight games for the first time in his career and gave his ankle and the rest of his body time to fully recover.

Johnson practiced Monday and said he is "back to my normal routine," which he had not been for a few weeks. Johnson has 22 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns this season.

With eight games left, though, he said his goals haven't changed and hitting the 1,000-yard mark in receiving is still plausible.

"Yeah, it's attainable to do that," Johnson said. "But we'll see how things work out."

That is somewhat possible because Johnson is fairly fresh compared to prior seasons. He said the month off was good for his body and he was "definitely fresher" when he returned. It is probably, he thinks, the freshest he has been during the midway point of a season in his career.

"There haven't been many times where I had three, four weeks off," Johnson said. "Any time you get that kind of time off, your body is going to feel rejuvenated."

Johnson's return means he'll move right back into the starting lineup at receiver opposite Golden Tate. With Johnson out, Tate has emerged as one of the better receivers in the league for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Tate is fourth in the NFL in receptions (55) and yards (800). And the presence of Johnson could open things up for both receivers.

"It changes (the offense), obviously," Stafford said. "Maybe not so much on the plays that we run but on how defenses treat us. So we'll see what Miami's plan is. Everybody's plan is different. They've got talented corners, so I'm sure they feel good at certain positions there.

"It'll be interesting to see. But we're just happy to continue to get guys healthy and then get some guys back."

The Dolphins have the NFL's third-ranked defense in terms of both yards and points allowed. Miami is second in the league in pass defense, allowing an average of just 201.1 yards per game.

The first-place Lions (6-2), who own a one-game lead over Green Bay atop the NFC North, won all three games in Johnson's absence.

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