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Megatron-Revis matchup reveals mutual respect

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Calvin Johnson hasn't exactly been receiving the royal treatment in his return to the Lions' lineup.

In Week 10, his first game after missing three straight with a high-ankle sprain, he faced Miami's Brent Grimes, considered a well above average cornerback. Last week in Arizona, he lined up against Patrick Peterson, a two-time All-Pro.

Sunday in New England, Johnson will likely see Darrelle Revis, a three-time All-Pro, and against a Patriots team averaging 32.3 points per game, the Lions will need him to perform well in the marquee matchup.

As they did last week, the Lions will face a talented secondary Sunday led by Revis and cornerback Brandon Browner. The 6-foot-4 Browner could draw the matchup against Johnson, but he might line up across from his former Seahawks teammate Golden Tate.

On a teleconference this week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn't say how the Patriots planned to defend Johnson and Tate, but no matter the matchups, the Lions' receivers need to do a better job creating separation than they did last week. Against Cardinals cornerbacks Peterson, Antonio Cromartie and Jerraud Powers, Johnson finished with five catches for 59 yards and Tate had just two catches for 41 yards.

Johnson said he left some plays on the field, and even though the Cardinals didn't do anything special to limit him, he expects the Patriots to use that film to help them game plan.

"Usually you tend to get a little copycat when something works out for a team, but we'll see," Johnson said.

Sunday's game will be the third time Johnson plays against Revis. In 2010 when Revis was with the Jets, he held Johnson to just one catch for 13 yards. When Revis was with Tampa Bay last year, Johnson had seven catches for 115 yards, but Revis left early with injury.

Johnson said Revis' instincts, ball skills and transitions in coverage make him tough, but Browner can lock up receivers, too.

"Another good challenge with those guys," Johnson said. "Physical guys, kind of like last week, real handsy. They like to grab and stuff, so we've just got to be physical back and try to knock those hands down so we can run our routes."

People around the league don't refer to him as "Revis Island" as regularly as a few years ago, but Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said he's still one of the top cover men in the NFL. Last year in Tampa Bay, Revis had to play zone frequently, which limited his effectiveness as a one-on-one matchup nightmare.

"He's a very talented player," Stafford said. "Obviously, he's getting to match guys like he wants to quite a bit in this system, a little bit different than it was for him in Tampa. I feel like he's following guys around and doing a good job on them."

And according to the Boston Herlad, Revis has plenty of respect for the 6-foot-5 Johnson, too.

"He's a man amongst boys out there," Revis said this week. "The dude's 6-foot-(5), 230 pounds. And he runs a 4.3. That's pretty freakish.

"It's like an alternate (universe) receiver that you want. So if you can create him on the video game, that's basically what he is. . . . I have a lot of respect for him. I feel like our defense has a lot of respect for him. He has a lot of respect around the league as well."

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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