Calvin Johnson has 38 receptions for 538 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Three came against the Redskins last Sunday. (Robin Buckson/The Detroit News)
Allen Park -- Calvin Johnson will play the game, but not before Sunday.
He'll talk about his opponent, but he won't offer any trash.
He'll see the bait, but he won't take it.
Not even this week, as the Lions star receiver — named NFC offensive player of the week after a three-touchdown performance against the Redskins — faces arguably his biggest challenge to date in the NFL.
The Jets are coming to town, and as Rex Ryan, the league's loudest carnival barker, crowed Wednesday, they're bringing "the best defense in the NFL" with them.
So if you're not headed to Ford Field on Sunday — and the Lions didn't even need an extension to avoid a local TV blackout, for a welcome change — maybe you should take Ryan's "Hard Knocks" advice: Go get a gosh-darn snack and pull up a chair.
There's plenty to like about this matchup, including Matthew Stafford vs. Mark Sanchez and the Lions' suddenly-ferocious defensive front against the NFL's best offensive line.
But perhaps no facet of Sunday's game is more intriguing than this one: Megatron's making his first trip to Revis Island.
Best vs. the best
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Johnson finally will toe the line against All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, a fellow 2007 draft classmate whom he's never faced and who apparently wasn't aware of his nickname.
"Why do they call him Megatron?" Revis told the New York Daily News. "He transforms into a Megatron, huh? I guess. I don't know."
Earlier, Johnson shrugged off most of the half-dozen or so questions he got about facing Revis, calling him a "pretty good corner" and a physical athlete "who makes plays."
"You make plays in this league, you get a rep," he said.
So doesn't he get jacked up to face a guy who's widely viewed as the best shutdown corner?
"Everybody's building it up," Johnson said, finally relenting a bit. "So it's gonna be a good little game, a good little showdown."
Translation: That's a good, little try, but I'm not biting. There was no wagering an offer to change his last name the way Chad Ochocinco did before facing Revis — and getting blanked — during last year's playoffs. There was no boast about escaping Revis Island. There was no vow to put on a show with the spotlight on.
And while Revis said Wednesday he's "eager" to match up with this Megatron fellow — when he's not, another Pro Bowl-caliber talent, Antonio Cromartie, will draw that duty — Johnson did admit he's looking forward to facing something he rarely sees: single coverage.
He just didn't say it quite as colorfully as his tag-team partner, Nate Burleson, who told me, "If you're bold enough to give us single-high safety, then let's have some fun."
But Calvin's no fun when it comes to this sort of thing. The closest No. 81 came to talking smack was when he was asked if Revis, who was slowed by a hamstring injury until recently, is fast enough to run with him.
With a big grin, Johnson replied, "I guess we'll find out."
But that was it, because with Johnson, as we've come to learn, what you see is what you get.
Proving his greatness
At last, though, with a healthy Stafford and a nearly-full complement of complementary threats around him, we're getting to see what the freakishly-gifted Johnson can really do.
After last Sunday's breakout performance, he's second in the NFL with eight touchdown receptions. And with 24 catches for 387 yards and seven touchdowns in October, the fourth-year standout might finally be on his way to a Pro Bowl season.
Ryan called Johnson "one of the premier receivers in the game," saying, "I mean, it should be illegal to have a guy that big and fast and talented. But he's going against the best this week."
Answered Johnson, "He can say what he wants. I'm not going to respond to it.
"I don't have it in me."
Actually, he probably does. We just won't hear about it until Sunday, when everyone gets to see for themselves.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is healthy after being hampered by a ... (Al Bello/Getty Images)
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