Megatron, Kevin Smith headed toward returns
The Lions receivers didn’t get it done against the Rams, coming up with a total of just two catches — and six drops.
A big reason for that shortfall was the continuing absence of star Calvin Johnson, who missed his second straight start with a knee injury.
Johnson practiced again on Thursday, and appears on schedule to play on Sunday, but head coach Jim Schwartz warned that he is — along with running back Kevin Smith — still a game-time decision.
"I’m out there practicing, you know, so that’s always a positive sign. Just being careful, being on the cautious side of everything, don’t want to injure it — I’m trying to get out there on Sunday, and play," Johnson said. "We’re just being cautious, being smart about it, and getting some reps in this week."
Johnson missed just one game as a rookie, then played in all 16 games last year, but hasn't played since early in the Pittsburgh game on Oct. 11, missing nearly three-quarters of that game, then both the game at Green Bay and the home game against the Rams, sandwiched around the Lions' bye week.
“We’re just going to keep on taking it like we are. Like I said, we’re just going to be careful, do what I can do. As long as I don’t have any setbacks, things look brighter for Sunday,” said the third-year star, noting that he doesn’t feel pressured to hurry back. “There’s no pressure, at all. First thing, I’ve got to look out for myself, because I don’t want to have this thing lingering for the future. I just want to get this thing back as close to 100 (percent) as I can, and get back on the field.
“It’s tough, sitting out there, watching your team go, knowing that you could be a factor, if you were out there. That’s always rough.”
The Lions did get rookie QB Matthew Stafford back from a knee injury against the Rams, but Smith left the game with a shoulder injury, and was held out of practice until a limited appearance Thursday.
“It was football. It’s nothing broken, or anything like that. It’s just part of the game. I just needed a day for it to calm down, and get back to where it was,” he said. “It’s gonna be a football thing. I’m not going to make it seem like I’ve got to go out there and fight through blood, like a gladiator, but — I mean, I’ll probably feel it, but not to the extent that I’ll worry about it.”
Smith appeared more concerned about an apparent insinuation that he would be losing carries to backup Maurice Morris. The former Seahawk (who will be going against his former teammates Sunday) finished the Rams game in Smith's absence, getting more carries (14) than he'd had in the Lions' first six games combined.
While Schwartz said Smith's his lead dog, when and if healthy, the second-year running back wants to prove that on the field.
“Because I get the ball first, I want to be that tempo-setter, that lead dog, and I think enough’s enough. I take it personal, but I don’t wanna go out there and try to do too much. I just want to go out there and do my job, and do it well,” he said.
“My personal heat-pack, I don’t know if anyone else feels it. And more of it’s on myself. The coaches have expectations, and of course you want to prove to them that you want to do your thing, but the most pressure’s coming from myself, because I didn’t come in this league to be a bottom-list rusher. ... I’ve gotta stick with it, because it’s not going my way, obviously. There’s two things you can do: You can give up, or you can get better. There’s only one option for me.
“Together, you know, I think we want to have our first solid game, and like I said, I take it upon myself, and I take it real personal. I want to get it going, and ... you know? Let’s not really talk about it. Enough’s enough. You go out there, and you get it done, or you don’t.”