The Detroit Lions usually hold Calvin Johnson out of practice on Wednesday as a well-deserved day of rest for the elite wide receiver, who clearly needs rest more than practice at this stage. This is a guy who consistently played at an elite level last season despite playing through pain and not practicing for a whole weeks, so Johnson isn’t one to enter a game “rusty”. He has missed just one game this season, and that was when he was a very surprising inactive in Week 5 with a knee injury.
Johnson did not practice for the Lions on Wednesday, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. However, things started to get interesting when Johnson was held out of practice today, though most of us just suspected that it was an extra day of rest for Johnson. The flip side to that, though, is, why the extra day of rest?
According to Lions official site beat writer Tim Twentyman, Calvin Johnson expects to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday, which is basically confirmation that he will play this week. The Lions are already expected to hold out Nate Burleson once again (he could be rested until Thanksgiving against the Green Bay Packers, when the 6-3 Lions really need their No. 2 wideout back), as they are looking to play the cautious card with Burleson. That further points to the likelihood of Johnson playing against Pittsburgh this week, and he termed his absences at practice as “maintenance issues”.
In my opinion, Johnson is probably a little bit sore from last week’s two-touchdown performance in the win over the Chicago Bears, so the extra rest is there to ensure that he’s as healthy as possible. I don’t think there’s anything amiss here, but we should keep an eye on his injury status. Why? Well, first off he’s the best receiver in the game, and secondly Twentyman reported that he only “plans” on playing- not that he’s a “lock” or “near-lock”. At the end of the day, though, I would be shocked if Johnson missed this week’s game.