Calvin Johnson: Packers' 'big play' is Jordy Nelson
From across the NFC North Division, Megatron took note.
Calvin Johnson didn't have to see the box score Sunday. Even before Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson went off against the New York Jets, Johnson paid attention.
For a long time, the Detroit Lions' perennial All-Pro receiver has been impressed.
"You always see him making some big plays," Johnson said. "He is definitely their big play, and he is a guy that we got to be able to contain come Sunday. Not let him get the ball and run with it, find seams to make bigger plays after he catches it. "
Johnson isn't doing too shabby himself.
The four-time Pro Bowler is off to his usual, blistering start, stuffing the stat sheet with 13 catches, 247 yards and two touchdowns. Those are good numbers, even ahead of Johnson's record-shattering past three seasons.
But the best receiver in the game will find himself in an odd scenario when the Lions host the Packers on Sunday.
In a rarity, Johnson will not have the best numbers on the field. It's Nelson who leads the NFL with 18 catches, 292 yards and – maybe most surprising – 30 targets through two games. On the leaderboard, he's No. 1. Johnson is No. 2.
Nelson said the new reality won't change his mindset.
"Absolutely not," Nelson said. "I really, I'm not going to say 'don't care' about what he does. Our defense is going to have to handle that. I'm more worried about what our offense has to do, and that's to get points on the board and win the game. That's all that matters.
"Comparing you across to another receiver, it's not the time and place during a game."
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers foreshadowed all the attention Nelson has gotten this week. You don't catch more than 200 yards in a game, lead the NFL in receiving, and go unnoticed.
From Megatron on down, Nelson has caught everyone's attention.
That means more double coverage, less opportunities to take advantage of hapless cornerbacks one-on-one. As Johnson said, Nelson is the one man not named Aaron Rodgers the Lions defense must stop.
Nelson knows the crowd of defenders is coming.
"We'll adjust to whatever's out there," Nelson said. "You have an idea going into a game of what they might do, but you always have to adjust on the fly a little bit."
Nelson has no interest in thinking about the big picture. Context is hard to grasp in two weeks. It's a long season ahead. He knows his numbers can go anywhere.
But, after 200 yards Sunday and a contract extension this offseason, Nelson is no secret any longer. The word "elite" has been bantered around. On Sunday, Nelson will see the best receiver in the world wearing opponents' colors on the opposite sideline.
Can he consider himself the same?
"I'm not worried about if I'm elite, top 5, top 10 – whatever people want to talk about," Nelson said. "I'm here to do my job, and that's run good routes. If the numbers produce like they have the last two games, then great. As long as we're winning. If we'd have had 209 yards and we'd have lost the game, then it would have been the worst game ever.
"To me, there's things that I left out on that field that I've got to get better and make more plays. And that's what I want to do."
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