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Calvin Johnson played entire season with finger perpendicular to his body

Calvin Johnson finger

Calvin Johnson has undergone two procedures since the Detroit Lions’ season ended after Week 17. One of the surgeries was for the knee injury that bothered him all season (rumored to be a partially-torn PCL). The other was for a finger injury that bothered him all season. Johnson never mentioned the finger injury, but Lions GM Martin Mayhew brought it up during Wednesday’s press conference to introduce new head coach Jim Caldwell.

Mayhew described the finger as being so mangled it was perpendicular to Calvin’s body.

“He played the entire season where the finger was really pointing perpendicular from his body,” Mayhew told MLive.com. “He’s trying to catch the ball (awkwardly). He would never complain about that, but that was certainly a factor I think in the way he played.”

Perhaps this explains the shocking drops Megatron had in the Monday night game against the Baltimore Ravens. You may recall that Johnson dropped at least three passes that game to give him a career-high amount of drops for the season. Despite the perpendicular digit, Johnson still had 84 catches for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. We should probably expect him to build on those numbers next season.

And after going through several photos of Johnson from the season, it appears that his right ring finger is the one that was screwed up. In most photos of Johnson holding the ball, the finger seemed to be bent awkwardly instead of curving to the pigskin like his other fingers. You can see what I mean in the image in this post.

Helmet smack to Shutdown Corner

Calvin Johnson drops three passes, sets career high for drops

Calvin Johnson dropsMaybe Matt Elam cracked the code on how to defeat the previously unconquerable Megatron.

Calvin Johnson had one of his worst games as a pro in the Detroit Lions’ 18-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. Though he finished with 6 catches for 98 yards, the stats show he was targeted 14 times, meaning he converted just 43 percent of the passes thrown his way. What’s worse is he had two brutal drops on long passes to cost his team, not to mention a drop on a two-point conversion attempt that would have given Detroit an 18-15 lead on the Ravens.

Johnson was officially credited with two drops, giving him a career-high 9 for the season. I’m guessing they did not give him a drop on the conversion attempt, though they should have.

The first drop came on a 3rd-and-15 play in the first quarter and spoiled what should have been a scoring drive for Detroit.

Detroit looked like it was going to cruise to a 14-0 lead until that drop, which led to a punt from around midfield on the next play.

Johnson also had a drop on the Lions’ last drive before halftime. They had a 2nd-and-9 from their 41 and Megatron dropped a sure first down to kill their drive. They ended up punting on that drive too.

What’s really interesting is that Johnson’s terrible game came after Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam boldly stated before the game that Megatron was “pretty old.” Maybe Elam’s words got inside Calvin’s head.

As fate would have it, Elam led the Ravens with 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and he was credited with a pass defended. He also sealed the game by making an interception on Detroit’s last possession of the game.

Maybe every defensive back and coach who gave Calvin respect was going about it all wrong. Maybe the proper way to attack him is to criticize him, even if he truly is worth of our praise for being the best wide receiver in football.

GIFs via @_marcusd_, GIFD Sports

Ravens S Matt Elam: Calvin Johnson is ‘pretty old’

Calvin JohnsonMatt Elam and the rest of the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary will be facing a challenging test on Monday night. His name is Calvin Johnson, and he’s one of the most dominant wide receivers to ever play in the NFL. Johnson is averaging over 100 yards per game this season and has hauled in 12 touchdowns. Elam, a rookie defensive back out of Florida, started out by saying all the right things about Megatron on Wednesday.

“Big, fast, athletic, unstoppable, freak,” Elam said, via ESPN.com.

He should have stopped there. What came out of Elam’s mouth next was a little more bizarre. When asked how he will approach covering Johnson, Elam had the following to say.

“He’s pretty old, so I don’t know how physical he’ll be,” he said. “He’s a big guy, but he’s older. I guess when they get older they’re not going to be as physical, you know what I’m saying? We’re going to have to be physical, make him uncomfortable.”

Players probably are a bit less physical when they get older, but Johnson is 28. Is that considered “pretty old?” His 1,348 yards receiving this season and mind-boggling 1,964 yards last year would disagree. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson has missed just four games during his seven-year career and is virtually impossible to shut down. He has plenty of physicality left in his 28-year-old body.

“You’ve got to know when it’s time to double him, when it’s time to triple-team him,” Elam added. “You’ve got to keep your eye on him, because (Detroit quarterback (Matthew) Stafford wants to get the ball to him.”

That’s more like it. I’m sure Elam will look back on his “pretty old” comment and wonder why it came out the way it did. All he can do now is hope Megatron forgives him for it.

Jerry Rice: Calvin Johnson has ‘a lot of work to do’ to be considered best wide receiver of all time

Calvin JohnsonThere are very few people that would make an argument for anyone but Jerry Rice as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history. Rice performed at a high level for more than 20 seasons, which is unheard of in football. He holds NFL records for career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and receiving touchdowns (197). Could Calvin Johnson eventually dethrone the San Francisco 49ers legend?

Johnson is in his seventh NFL season and is roughly one-third of the way to Rice’s records in most categories. That means he is technically on pace to challenge those marks, but playing 20-plus seasons is an amazing feat — let alone doing it at an effective level. Rice recently alluded to that.

“I think it’s great that they’re still talking about me after my career’s over. (Johnson) still has a ways to go,” Rice told USA Today Sports on Tuesday. “We’re just going to let this guy continue to develop, and if he should break the majority of my records or break all my records, I’ll be the first one to congratulate him. But I know the sacrifice that you have to put into it. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work.”

It takes a little luck, too. Johnson has missed only four games in his career, so he has been able to remain relatively healthy. That being said, he has dealt with some injuries that result in stretches of ineffective play. Staying on the field when he’s in his mid-30s will be a challenge. However, Rice said he believes Megatron has become more than just a physical force.

“I think (Johnson) has gotten so much better route running, and he doesn’t just rely on his jumping ability anymore,” Rice said. “That’s why he’s called Megatron. He’s a hell of a lot (to handle) on that football field. Right now he’s had about (63) touchdowns and he’s going strong. I wish him the best. I know what type of work ethic he has. He’s a complete player.

“When you’re so dominant in college and you’re such a big body, you’re so physical and so unstoppable, you don’t focus on just the little things. Now, I think (Johnson) wants to be the complete player.”

Could Johnson be the most physically dominant receiver to ever play? I’d argue that he is, though I’d still be surprised to see him topple Rice’s records. Sustaining success for that long just doesn’t happen.

Helmet smack to Tha Cover 2

Tom Jackson: Dez Bryant threw fit because he realized he’s not as good as Calvin Johnson

Dez Bryant Jason GarrettThere has been a ton of analysis regarding Dez Bryant’s sideline outbursts on Sunday during the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions. Many of the Cowboys coaches and players defended Bryant, saying the behavior was just a manifestation of the receiver’s passion for the game. Others says it’s immaturity and that he needs to grow up.

Everyone with an opinion has weighed in. But one person whose explanation was different and made some sense to me was Tom Jackson’s.

Speaking on Monday Night Countdown on ESPN, Jackson said he felt Bryant threw a fit on Sunday because he was being upstaged by Calvin Johnson. Recall that in the week leading up to the game, Bryant praised Johnson for being the best at what he does, while also saying he can do what Megatron does.

[Related: Dez Bryant and Jason Witten fight on sidelines (GIF)]

“I believe I can do whatever he can do,” Bryant said on 103.3 FM ESPN in Dallas last week. “I think it’s just a pride thing. When it comes to football, just being on the field, it’s a mindset and having a mentality. I honestly believe when I’m there, I’ll be feeling like there’s nothing I can’t do. Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I’m going to do it.”

Jackson referred to those comments when he said Bryant got a rude awakening.

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Flipper Anderson’s son was stoked Calvin Johnson did not break his dad’s receiving record

Calvin JohnsonFormer NFL wide receiver Flipper Anderson holds what seems like one of the most untouchable records in football. Calvin Johnson almost made it fall during Sunday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys.

In 1989, Anderson caught 15 passes for an incredible 336 yards during a game with the Los Angeles Rams. Megatron fell just seven yards short of that mark against Dallas, hauling in 14 catches for 329 yards. It was one of the most amazing single-game performances you will ever see. Flipper’s son Dres Anderson was relieved that his old man’s 336-yard game is still second to none.

I don’t blame Dres for wanting his dad’s record to hold up. When you make your mark on a professional sport like that, it’s only human nature to want it to remain permanent. It’s when you get into saying stuff like Mercury Morris says that it becomes obnoxious and uncalled for.

H/T Sporting News

Calvin Johnson had a touchdown catch in between three Bengals

Calvin Johnson made a ridiculous 50-yard touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, going up between two defenders to make the grab, while a third defender came in at the last second. This was a thing of beauty.

Here’s another look at the amazing touchdown grab:

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