Lions’ Calvin Johnson could sit out final 2 exhibitions

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions coach Jim Caldwell indicated Calvin Johnson won’t play in Friday’s exhibition game in Jacksonville, and considering many starters rest in the preseason finale, it looks like there’s a chance the star receiver won’t play at all before the regular season.

“I’m not quite certain if you’re going to see him at all,” Caldwell said Wednesday, later adding Johnson is indeed healthy. “There’s no guarantees at this point.”

Johnson said Tuesday he wants to play in the preseason this year, and after saying Tuesday “not necessarily” in regards to Johnson making an appearance Friday, Caldwell’s comments Wednesday suggest the Lions are leaning toward resting him.

However, some starters could see action into the second half of the contest against the Jaguars (8 p.m. Friday, CBS).

“It’s going to vary,” Caldwell said of the playing time for starters. “There will be some guys that’ll play the entire first half and then come out and start a series in the third quarter. There will be others that won’t be quite that long.”

Players like Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate and Stephen Tulloch would seem like candidates who don’t need to play beyond the first half. But, with several injuries the past week, some of the starters Friday will actually be backups, so the Lions will try to see them as much as they need to before roster decisions begin next week. Someone like defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo, who could start for Caraun Reid (ankle), could see extended run as a bubble player.

“This time of year, particularly when you get as many guys banged up as we’ve gotten banged up … the last week and a half or so, those things enter in, so it changes it up a little bit,” Caldwell said.