East Rutherford, N.J. — Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was effectively a decoy in Sunday's 24-17 win over the New York Jets because of an ankle injury he suffered in the fourth quarter of the Week 3 win over the Green Bay Packers.
He started the game, but missed several plays and only played consecutive snaps a couple times. On one drive, Johnson started in the huddle then ran off the field, and he tried to run out for other plays before being held back.
Johnson didn't go through all of his typical pregame routine during warm-up. He was a game-time decision, and coach Jim Caldwell said there was a chance he wouldn't play.
"If he couldn't go, we wouldn't have used him, so he could go," Caldwell said after the game. "He just might not have been 100 percent Calvin, and sometimes a 90 percent Calvin is better than a lot of folks. He was limited in what he could do, and we certainly considered it."
Johnson, though, said he wasn't feeling 90 percent healthy, and he walked with a noticeable limp after the game.
"I don't know," he said when asked for a more accurate percentage. "It's hard to put a number on that stuff."
Johnson's numbers in the game were two catches for 12 yards.
"We knew he wasn't going to be at his best," Caldwell said. "We knew that."
Golden Tate successfully filled in as Matthew Stafford's go-to option with eight catches for 116 yards, and Johnson said he and Stafford chatted about Tate's performance after the game.
Lions coach praises QB Stafford and WR Tate in 24-17 win over the Jets.
After doing some running Saturday, Johnson said he felt good enough to play, and he felt the ankle improving throughout a week in which he didn't practice until Friday — and he was limited.
Although Johnson's presence on the field is enough to make defenses reconsider their calls, he admitted that the Jets didn't pay him much attention after seeing his physical condition.
"Maybe at the beginning," Johnson said, "and then they probably fell off and did what they wanted to do."
Because the Lions won, though, he wasn't as upset about how little he played.
"It's not frustrating at all," he said. "It's not frustrating when we're winning football. We've got good players that come in, everybody has experience in the offense. I have confidence in everybody that goes out there on the field."
In the past, the Lions offense would've struggled with Johnson as limited as he was, but Stafford played a great game without his top target, finished 24 of 34 for 293 yards and three total touchdowns, including one on the ground.
Stafford praised offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi for shaping a game plan around Johnson's likely limitations.
"We knew early in the week that Calvin may be available and that was going to be icing on the cake, that was going to be a bonus," Stafford said. "He was able to play as many plays today as he did — I'm not sure how many that was — and had a couple catches.
"He obviously wasn't himself out there, but that's the kind of guy he is, just to come out and play for us and help us out with depth."