Bagshot, England — Until this season, the only time Calvin Johnson missed consecutive games was in 2009. As he continues to deal with a high-ankle sprain he first suffered in Week 3, there’s a chance he’ll miss three straight games for the first time in his career if he doesn’t play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons in London.
Regardless, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Thursday he’s not concerned about Calvin Johnson’s long-term health.
In addition to the ankle injury this year, Johnson missed two total games in 2013 as he dealt with knee and finger injuries for much of the season.
“I don’t really have a general concern about that,” Mayhew said. “It’s the NFL, man. Guys get hurt.”
The 29-year-old Johnson has taken a pounding during his eight-year career in which he has 594 receptions for 9,676 yards and 68 touchdown and missed just eight games.
As great as Johnson has been during his career, the Lions could face a difficult decision about his contract in the coming years. Johnson will count $24 million against the salary cap in 2016 and $21.4 million in 2017, a difficult sum to pay any player older than 30.
Mayhew didn’t answer directly when asked if he expects Johnson to finish his career with the Lions.
“I don’t have any expectations,” he said. “I’m just getting ready to play the Atlanta Falcons and try to get to 6-2.”
So far in 2014, Johnson has 22 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns in five games. Teammate Golden Tate ranks sixth in the NFL with 649 receiving yards, and even when Johnson returns, there’s a chance someone else will lead the team in receiving for the first time since 2007, Johnson’s rookie year.
Johnson ranks 45th in NFL history in receiving yards and passed Herman Moore for the Lions’ franchise record last season.
In talking about Johnson’s health, Mayhew mentioned quarterback Matthew Stafford — “knock wood” — as someone who overcame a couple injury-plagued seasons to stay healthy, and he thinks Johnson can do the same thing.
“Calvin’s got to do the things he’s got to do, and it’s like every other player,” Mayhew said. “There’s always a risk of injury when you play in this league, and sometimes you have guys that get a couple and then they stay healthy for a long time.”