Green Bay, Wis. – It wasn’t like Calvin Johnson took the Lions by surprise Sunday. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited on Friday.
“We certainly game-planned for his absence,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “We were prepared for any case; prepared for him being able to do everything, prepared for him to be limited and prepared for him not to play.”
Still, they held out hope that Johnson’s ailing left knee would respond to treatment and he’d be able to play Sunday. It was clear early in Johnson’s pregame workout he wouldn’t be.
“We knew Calvin would do everything he could to possibly play,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “We kind of had an idea (Saturday) that he wasn’t going to play. He tried to come out today and give it a go, but he wasn’t able to do it.
“If anybody can fight through an injury, it is that guy. I appreciate him doing everything he could try to get there. I know he wanted to be out there.”
In the worst way. It was just the fourth game Johnson has missed in his six-plus seasons.
“It’s tough to see your buddies out there grinding and not be able to be out there with them,” Johnson said. “It’s tough to watch.”
Johnson, per team rules, wouldn’t discuss the injury. He did say it was a different ailment than what he dealt with last season. He missed practice the entire week before the Jacksonville game last season and was able to play.
“This is all different stuff,” he said. “I will get back as soon as I can.”
He was asked how close he was to being able to play Sunday.
“It was close, real close,” he said.
Schwartz was almost speechless. The question was about the Lions’ receivers inability to create any separation from what was exclusively man-to-man coverage.
“They’ve got to get open,” he said. “I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Stafford completed 25 of 40 passes to eight different receivers, but until the last drive when the Packers sat back in a prevent defense, he had to throw into small windows.
Receivers Patrick Edwards (five targets, two catches), Kris Durham (eight targets, three catches) and tight end Tony Scheffler (seven targets, four catches) struggled to get open.
“We lost Calvin, we lost Nate (Burleson) and we have guys like Patrick who is trying to come back (from an ankle injury) and Ryan Broyles — we have guys trying to fight through some stuff,” Stafford said. “We just have to continue to get healthier; that’s the main thing.”
Rookie Theo Riddick, who has carved out a big role on special teams, left the game in the first half with what was later diagnosed as a concussion.
“They actually took him to a local hospital just to check him out,” Schwartz said.
Riddick was back in the locker room by the end of the game and flew back to Detroit with the team. He will have to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he can get back on the field.
Right tackle Jason Fox, who missed the last three games with a groin injury, returned to the starting line but his bad luck continues. He left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. He was in the locker room afterward without a brace or a wrap on the knee. Schwartz would not give any details of the injury, but it looks to be short-term.
…Tight end Tony Scheffler was slow getting up after taking a hard hit in the fourth quarter. The team did not say whether he was checked for a possible concussion. He did leave the game.
…Inactive for the Lions besides Johnson were cornerback Jonte Green, quarterback Kellen Moore, receiver Nate Burleson, offensive linemen Leroy Harris and LaAdrian Waddle and running back Mikel Leshoure.
... Packers linebacker Clay Matthews left in the third quarter with a thumb injury.
…Attendance was announced at 78,200, the largest crowd in the history of Lambeau Field.