By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Notoriously vanilla play calling in preseason games always obscures the reality of a team’s offense, and for the Detroit Lions the effect has been multiplied by the absence of superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Fans will see the new Lions offense – with arguably its most important piece included – for the first time Friday.
Johnson has been a healthy scratch for the first two preseason games, but head coach Jim Caldwell said the team plans to play him in this third game.
“We plan to get him some work this week,” Caldwell said. “That’s today that I’m telling you that. If toward the end of the week something adjusts where we have to adjust here and there – and it could be that with a number of different guys – but we plan to get him some work this week.”
Caldwell said Johnson might get less time in the game than other first-string players because he has not been in the earlier games and because the team puts particular emphasis on keeping him healthy, but generally speaking Caldwell said to expect most of the first string to play the entire first half and come back out for the second half.
“We’re going to go a little while, but it’s tailored differently to every guy that’s on the first-team offense or the first-team defense – not everyone’s going to get the exact same amount,” Caldwell said. “The typical scenario – it’s not etched in stone – is that your first units, offense and defense, will go through the half, come back out after the half because this is the first time they’ve had an opportunity to do so, so that’s typically the way. But it’s not a blanket for everybody on our offense or a blanket statement for everybody on defense. Some of the guys may not play in the second half, but for the most part, that’s the way we plan it.”
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah, another starter who has yet to appear in a preseason game, may also play Friday, though Caldwell did not confirm that would be the case.
“Even though he’s off of PUP, we’re still going to bring him along just according to what he can handle from a physical standpoint, so we’ll get a sense of that,” Caldwell said. “He’s doing a little bit more today in practice, and he’ll do a little bit more tomorrow, and then we’ll see what happens come game day.”