By: Mike Feld
Calvin Johnson can remember watching the Lions on Thanksgiving every year as a child.
He never believed he’d actually be a part of the annual tradition.
Johnson joined Stoney, Bill and Sara for a special Thanksgiving edition of their annual chat before Thursday’s game against Houston and talked about how humbled he has been to partake in such a memorable tradition.
“I’ve been watching this game since I was a little kid,” Johnson said. “I never thought I would have an opportunity to be one of those guys actually out there on the field, playing in front of the whole world watching.”
While Megatron never thought he’d be in this spot, Lions fans never thought this team would be in their position – 4-6 overall – entering the late November classic.
Johnson shares the frustration with the fans, but despite the playoffs being more of a pipe dream than a realistic goal, the wide out refuses to change how he approaches every single week.
“We’ve just got to come out every day,” Johnson said. “You can’t change the way we’ve been approaching it as far as the workman’s attitude and putting good work in at practice. The thing is that work we put into in practice has to translate to the field. We can’t have lapses.”
But the Lions have had lapses. The most critical of them may have come in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s contest with Green Bay, as Detroit blew a late advantage and fell 21-20.
“Every loss is tough, but especially since it’s so fresh in my mind, it was tough,” Johnson said. “We were right there where we wanted to be at the end of the game. We just didn’t close it out like we needed to.”
It didn’t help that Johnson’s position mate – receiver Titus Young – has become more of a detriment than a help to the squad and has been deactivated for Thursday’s showdown with the 9-1 Texans.
“It was just a culmination of things, with [Sunday’s performance] being one of them,” Johnson said. “A culmination of things from last year and now. Coach had to make a move.”
While No. 81 supported the decision to give Young the week off, he and his fellow wide outs won’t shun their teammate when he returns to Allen Park for practice – whenever that happens.
“The whole team has to come together, but especially with him being in our room,” Johnson said. “Definitely, we take that upon our shoulders to do something there. There’s only so much you can do for somebody, but you definitely don’t leave him out there for the wolves. You definitely take him under your arms and let you know he has a home with us as far as the receivers go no, matter how else everyone else feels.”
If Johnson needs show Young an example of how to act on and off the field, he might be able to use Thursday’s game film. There, Megatron can show his understudy a gifted receiver by the name of Johnson who has become the model for leadership and talent in the league.
The only problem is that this Johnson is wearing the road whites.
Houston wide out Andre Johnson, a 10-year veteran, will look to add to his 60-catch, 870-yard total against the Lions. It wouldn’t surprise Calvin one bit if Andre gives him a spirited battle for top player named Johnson on the field on Thursday.
“I’ve been watching Andre for a long time,” Johnson said. “He’s one of those that, if you’re going to model yourself after, he’s a good guy to model yourself after. It’s just the way he conducts himself on the field, the way he plays and the physical presence he brings to the game.”
That won’t be any extra motivation for Calvin or the Lions, however. That’s because the added emphasis of being in the national spotlight is already there.
“It’s just a great opportunity,” Johnson said. “-I’m looking forward to it every year. Even though we have three games in 12 days, it’s a highlight of the year. It’s easy to get up for.”