Calvin Johnson, Lions eager to face ex-teammate Louis Delmas

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Less than a year after signing Louis Delmas to a two-year deal worth nearly $9.5 million, the Lions cut him last February.

Even though Delmas, a second-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2009, played all 16 games in 2013, the Lions were worried his surgically-repaired knees would impact his trademark aggression in 2014.

Delmas received interest from several teams, but in March, he signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Miami Dolphins, a chance for him to return to the place he called home before Michigan. On Sunday, Delmas will play the Lions for the first time in his career, but said he didn't have the game circled on his calendar.

"No, definitely not," he said, according to a transcript released by the Dolphins. "The one thing about me, I don't hold grudges or anything like that. I know they're a great opponent. I still know a couple of guys up there. It's business. I'm going to go up there and play football like we do each and every week."

One of Delmas' battles Sunday will likely be helping cover Calvin Johnson, who should play after missing the past three games with a high-ankle sprain. Delmas recalled his matchups against the NFL's top receiver on Tuesday.

"Throughout practice, but I pretty much lost every one," he said.

Told of Delmas' comments, Johnson said with a smile he remembered those matchups "the same way."

"Look forward to going against him," Johnson said. "He's having a good year, it's good to see him doing well where he's at."

Johnson and the other Lions expect Delmas to do plenty of trash talking and be his typical energetic self Sunday.

"I'm sure he'll be dancing and having fun," defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "He's a good dude. It's been a while since I've seen him, so it'll be good to see him. I hope he plays well, but not too well."

Sunday's game is a critical matchup for both teams. The Lions (6-2) have won three straight and could use a win with their following two games on the road at Arizona (7-1) and New England (7-2). The Dolphins have also won three in a row, but at 5-3, they're still on the outside looking in on the AFC wild card race.

Delmas has played a key role in Miami's success this year as the Dolphins rank third in the NFL in yards and points allowed per game. Although Delmas was benched for Michael Thomas in Week 2, he's started every other game this year and has 29 tackles, two fumble recoveries, a sack and returned an interception for a touchdown.

"He's hungry to prove himself," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "We had concerns when he got here with the fact that he's had some injury history, but he has not missed a thing. He's been out here every day, even when he's a little banged up, like a lot of them are at this point in the season. He just comes to work and doesn't complain. He just has that energy that you love. I think it's contagious with the rest of the guys."

Delmas was the boisterous leader of the secondary during his time with the Lions. His fast, foolhardy playing style often led to big plays, but at other times left the secondary exposed.

But when Delmas was healthy — he missed eight games in 2012, five in 2011 and one each in 2010 and 2009 — the Lions played a better, more fearsome brand of defense.

"To be honest with you, it's just another road game for me," Delmas said. "I know I had been there for five years, but my times in Detroit are done. My time with Detroit has been done since I signed with Miami. It's a job, it's a battle that we've got to go take care of, and that's the only way I think about it."

Dolphins at Lions

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: CBS/97.1

Records: Lions 6-2, Dolphins 5-3

Line: Lions by 3

Series: Dolphins lead 7-3 (Detroit 34-27, Dec. 26, 2010)

Did you know? The last time the Dolphins played at Ford Field in 2006, Joey Harrington had three touchdown passes and led them to a 27-10 victory.