Packers' corners gear up for Lions' Calvin Johnson

September 19, 2014


Green Bay Packers' Sam Shields (37) and Morgan Burnett break up a pass intended for New York Jets' Jeremy Kerley during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

GREEN BAY 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.

Green Bay Packers' Tramon Williams intercepts a pass intended for New York Jets' Zach Sudfeld during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

"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.


Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson runs for a 67-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter during an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014.

"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.

Notes: B.J. Raji said that the recovery for his torn right biceps tendon could take from six to nine months. Raji, who is out for the year after getting hurt in the preseason, had signed a one-year deal in the offseason to stay in Green Bay. "I would love to be a Packer, but obviously who knows at this point. I'm more worried about my rehab and just being around the team and trying to be a help to the young guys," Raji said. ... CB Casey Hayward returned to practice on a limited basis after missing a day. ... RT Bryan Bulaga (left) was limited for a second straight day.

Packers' Raji to need 6-9 months after surgery

GREEN BAY Defensive lineman B.J. Raji will need six to nine months to return from right biceps surgery, though it's unclear if he'll be back with the Green Bay Packers.

Raji said Thursday he had surgery recently to reattach a tendon following the injury last month during a preseason game. It knocked Raji out for the 2014 season.

Raji had signed a one-year deal in the offseason to remain in Green Bay. He was having a good training camp after being moved back to nose tackle from end.

The six-year veteran from Boston College said he would love to remain a Packer, though he's concentrating on his recovery and helping younger Green Bay teammates on the line.

Green Bay drafted Raji in the first round in 2009.

"Just knowing how this league and life works, you can never count anything out. It's obviously crossed my mind ... potentially I could be seeing my last games at Lambeau" Field, Raji said. "I've thought about it, but it's not my primary concern at this point."

Raji said he must wait for scar tissue to heal before starting the rehab process, but doctors have assured him that he'll return to full strength.

"The recovery is not really an issue," Raji said. "We're almost certain that I'll be able to be back at 100 percent."


Associated Press