Calvin Johnson had what the team called minor surgery on his right knee last week and also had surgery Monday to repair a broken finger. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Detroit — Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Wednesday that All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson had not one, but two, surgeries in the past week.
He had what Mayhew called minor surgery on his right knee last week. Mayhew said the surgery was not to repair a torn posterior cruciate ligament, as had been reported. Johnson also had surgery on Monday to repair a broken finger.
“He’s going to be fine,” Mayhew said. “He played the entire season with a finger point perpendicular to his body. He never complained about it but it certainly was a factor for him.”
Johnson missed two games and was limited in two others because of the knee.
Assistant coach watch
Mayhew and new head coach Jim Caldwell are in the process of configuring his coaching staff and interviews were conducted Wednesday, with more set for Thursday.
President Tom Lewand said they hoped to have the staff in place before the Senior Bowl next week.
According to league sources, former Michigan assistant Teryl Austin has agreed to be the defensive coordinator. Austin was with Caldwell at Penn State, Wake Forest and Baltimore. He will replace Gunther Cunningham.
Of the assistant coaches from Jim Schwartz’s staff still under contract, it is believed that Mayhew has recommended special teams coordinator John Bonamego, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and defensive line coach Kris Kocurek be retained.
Former Michigan assistant and Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English is expected to interview for a position, as is former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. Lewand, a Michigan grad, said he had no qualms with hiring a Buckeye.
“If it helps us win, I will tattoo a buckeye on my forehead,” he said.
Word of mouth helps
When the Lewand and Mayhew were still in the search process, one thing helping Caldwell’s case was the support of his former players, some of whom called Lions players.
Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning called Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and former Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney called Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. That kind of unsolicited support is something Lewand said he hadn’t seen in past coaching searches.
“That makes you take notice because when a guy who’s been coached by a guy is endorsing him unsolicited to other players, that’s noteworthy,” he said.
Manning also called Mayhew one night out of the blue, Lewand said.
“(Mayhew) was sitting at home with his kids, and he wasn’t even going to answer it because he didn’t recognize the number,” Lewand said, and it was Manning calling to support Caldwell.
Suh contract: a process
Suh has two years left on his contract, and because he can opt out in 2015, the Lions will likely try to work on an extension this offseason.
So far, though, the process is in the early stages.
“We have tremendous respect for Ndamukong, and I think we’ve expressed to him an interest in being here and he’s expressed an interest in staying here,” Lewand said. “We’ll see where that takes us and what the timing of that is.
“He came by today to see coach Caldwell, and I think he’s another guy who can benefit from the leadership that Jim’s going to bring and the staff that he’s going to come up with.”
Mayhew and Lewand both took exception to the idea that their search was too limited.
“The list of coaches we called was longer than the list of guys we interviewed,” Mayhew said. “But as we went through our list of coaches to be interviewed, we realized our head coach was coming from that list.”
Mayhew said they did not talk to any college coaches, but that was by design.
“The important thing this team and these players needed was credibility and confidence,” Mayhew said. “They needed someone to come in knowing what they are doing; someone who’s been there, someone who’s done it.”