Cleveland – Calvin Johnson wasn’t exactly used as a decoy Sunday, but he clearly wasn’t able to be his normal, All-Pro self.
“It was going to be all up to him,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said on the Lions’ plans for Johnson Sunday, who returned to active duty after missing last week with an injured right knee. “He was battling as hard as he could to be out there as much as he could.
“Just having his presence out there helped these guys out.”
Johnson only played 14 snaps in the first half and he dropped two passes. He played a lot more in the second half, though mostly he lined up in the slot. Most of the routes he ran were short, ball-possession plays.
He wound up with eight targets and three catches for 25 yards.
“We knew if we were only going to have him for a certain amount of snaps, we’d want those to be in the second half,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “So we limited his snaps in the first half.”
Schwartz said Johnson’s presence helped open the field for Reggie Bush and open the red zone for tight end Joseph Fauria, who had three touchdowns.
“Calvin is a tough guy,” Schwartz said. “He was able to go. We knew he wasn’t going to able to play every snap, but what he was able to give us was enough to help us to a win.”
Kris Durham did his best — literally — to try to make up for Johnson’s diminished capacity. After catching three passes for 30 yards against the Packers last week, he had a career-best eight catches for 83 yards Sunday.
“I’m definitely getting a rhythm,” Durham said. “I’ve been working a lot more with Matthew the last couple of weeks, so I am starting to get more of a rhythm with him. I need to help him out more.”
Durham was kicking himself for a pair of drops, but Stafford opted focus more on his big plays – particularly a 24-yarder that he caught jumping over cornerback Joe Haden.
“He was winning his matchups,” said Stafford, who threw passes to Durham when the two were at Georgia, as well. “He’s battling through stuff (leg injury), too. Kris is a reliable guy. He’s going to be in the right spot and he’s going to make plays. The more he plays, the more confidence he gets.”
Running back Joique Bell left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. X-rays taken after the game were negative but Bell is expected to be re-examined today.
“It just popped out,” said Bell. “The x-rays came back negative, so I’ll just take it day by day, do the proper rehab for it and try to get back as soon as possible.”
Bell said he got bent backwards when he was at the bottom of a pile of players. He said it popped.
“I played another play to see if I could go through it and I couldn’t,” he said.
The Lions were down three when Bell got hurt and they scored the go-ahead touchdown as he was going back for x-rays.
“That made my ribs feel much better,” he said.
…Cornerback Rashean Mathis injured a groin in the first half and didn’t return. Schwartz said he thought the injury was a day-to-day issue. Rookie Darius Slay replaced him at right corner and played well.
…With Bell out, Mikel Leshoure got some snaps. He had nine yards in two carries.
…The Lions were without three other starters on offense — receiver Nate Burleson (forearm), tight end Tony Scheffler (concussion) and right tackle Jason Fox (knee).
…Also inactive Sunday were running back Theo Riddick (concussion), quarterback Kellen Moore, offensive lineman Leroy Harris and cornerback Jonte Green.
…The Browns were without starting linebacker Jabaal Sheard. Rookie Barkevious Mingo started in his place.