April 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm Receiver Calvin Johnson hopes for boost in Lions' run game By Rod Beard
The Detroit NewsJahvid Best played in only five games in 2011 but still led the Lions in rushing -- a sign of the team's weak run attack. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Allen Park — Coming off a career-best season, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson isn't necessarily looking to improve on his statistics. In fact, he'd like to see the Lions spread the ball around a little more.
Last season, Johnson had career-highs in receptions (96), yards (1,681) and touchdowns (16), but he would prefer that the Lions get the running backs more involved in the offense.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has his best season, as well, throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. But the Lions were a pass-first team, which made the offense a bit predictable.
"Last year, the running game wasn't really there and we threw the ball all day," Johnson said Tuesday. "Matt had a heck of a year, throwing over 5,000 yards — not to say he won't throw for 5,000 again. But if we have a consistent running game, that's a lot of passes we don't have to throw and we can run some time off the clock."
The Lions ranked fourth in the NFL, averaging 301 yards passing, but just 29th in rushing (95.2 yards).
Jahvid Best, who was expected to lead a revamped rushing attack, played in just six games after suffering a concussion — but still managed to lead the team with 390 rushing yards. After Best's injury, the Lions had a backfield by committee, with Maurice Morris, Kevin Smith and Keiland Williams combining for 867 yards.
If the Lions can establish a consistent running game, Johnson believes it will benefit the receivers, as well.
"I'm not mad because honestly we (can) run it all day. I don't mind blocking for my RBs and seeing them shine," Johnson said. "I want those guys to get our running game strong and bring some extra guys in the box and that helps us (receivers) outside."
The receiving corps should be improved with Titus Young gaining more experience after his rookie season, hen he had 48 catches for 607 yards and six touchdowns.
"It's a big difference from your rookie year to your second year because everything slows down so much," Johnson said of Young. "Coming from college to the NFL, he made a good adjustment, but things are going to get slower for him and he'll understand defenses a lot more. He'll be good for us." Casual observer
Johnson said he would watch some of this week's draft coverage, but he's not going to be glued to his TV.
"I'll be in tune to a little bit of it. I never really can sit there and watch it — it's hard," he said. "Honestly, I haven't paid too much attention besides the guys you see on TV every day. Obviously, we're not going to take any of those guys, such as (Robert Griffin III)."
Johnson said he wasn't sure whether the Lions would select an offensive or defensive player with their first-round pick, but guessed that it would be a defender.
As he prepares for his sixth season, Johnson recalled his draft experience fondly, when he was selected second overall in 2007.
"Being able to do those things that you see (on TV) but you never thought you'd be there — it's surreal and it's a blessing."
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2012 ... z1t2voAMac