By Ashley Scoby

It’s a miracle the phrase “only four targets” isn’t trending on Twitter in the metro Detroit area this week. After Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson was targeted four times in Sunday’s 33-28 loss to San Diego – and caught only two passes – the debate hasn’t really stopped. Where the line is between forcing the ball to a star receiver, and not utilizing him enough is a blurry one.

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But head coach Jim Caldwell continues to say that every game plan is different, and that how much Johnson is used will all be based on the flow of the individual game.

“It’s not the first time it’s ever happened,” Caldwell said. “Obviously he’s a very, very important part of what we do. We certainly like to see him flourish but it’s just the way the ball game went. That’s basically how it goes.”

He also compared the situation to ones he had while he was head coach of the Colts.

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“There were times we had Marvin Harrison at Indy where he might have only caught a couple balls in game, but obviously at the end of the season, he was a huge impact on what we did as well,” he said. “It goes that way sometimes.”

The argument for using Johnson less has been that the Lions have several other offensive weapons to spread the ball around to. One of those is rookie running back Ameer Abdullah, who impressed in his debut with 199 all-purpose yards.

But according to Caldwell, beginner’s luck is sometimes an issue in the NFL. And until Abdullah is consistent with the kind of production he notched on Sunday, teams aren’t going to design their gameplans around the rookie from Nebraska.

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“There’s a lot of players that have a pretty good game at the onset and disappear,” Caldwell said. “Until you’re able to do it time and time and time again, then you build a reputation in this league where I think they begin to take notice of you. He’s a young guy. He’s still got a ways to go. That was just one ball game. I don’t think they’ll go to any extra precautions to defend him.”