Much like the value of preseason football to a couple of star running backs, what good is it to put the best wide receiver in football through every play in practice? That's what Calvin Johnson has always wanted to do, but after seven years in the league and nothing to prove, Lions coaches are pulling the reins on Megatron just a bit.
"I'm older now," the 28-year-old Johnson said Tuesday. "I'm not diving for the balls anymore (in practice). Coach (Jim) Caldwell has a big emphasis about us staying off the ground.
"I don't see a lot of the reps that I'm used to seeing. They'll come, but I'm used to being out there every play."
So when you read Wednesday practice reports during the season and see Calvin listed as "DNP," don't freak out. This is a good thing.
Johnson limped through the final stages of last season and underwent minor surgeries on his knee and finger during the offseason. Anything to reduce his wear and tear, I'm all for it. He is in the prime of his career; the Lions need to get the most they can out of Johnson and don't need him spending extra energy on a ton of 11-on-11 reps in July.
Johnson is the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver without question and a mid-first-round lock. Even with the new additions to Detroit's passing offense -- Golden Tate , Eric Ebron -- Megatron shouldn't see any sort of decline in targets or production.