Johnson, Lions stay upbeat despite 0-5 start

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Golden Tate said he’s never been through this. Glover Quin said it, too.

So many players in the Lions locker room have never dealt with this kind of adversity.

But Calvin Johnson has.

He was on the 2008 team that finished 0-16.

Asked Wednesday about 2008, Johnson seemed to not instantly recall the significance of that year — then he cringed when it hit him.

“Totally different team,” he said. “We have so much talent on the field. Not that we didn’t have talent then, but we’ve got playmakers on offense and defense.

“We’ve just got to bring it all together.”

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The Lions, to a man, are trying to stay positive in the midst of an 0-5 start.

They say they’re behind embattled quarterback Matthew Stafford. They say the locker room is good. They say reports that Jim Caldwell has lost the team are bogus.

Quin even went so far as to say it wouldn’t surprise him one bit if this team finishes 11-5. Yes, that would mean rattling off 11 wins in a row.

Surely, there were some glass-half-full guys in 2008, too, and look at how that turned out.

“It’s not hard to not think of it,” Johnson said, asked again about 2008. “That’s way back in the past, so the only time I think about it is when you guys mention it.”

Of course, with each loss, it’s going to be mentioned by “you guys” — the media — more and more.

Quin knows it, which is why he quipped:

“We need to get a win. Let’s get two! Then you all might not even show up anymore.”

This is the ninth season in the league for Johnson, who has been on four losing Lions teams and two Lions teams that made the playoffs.

Since the Lions drafted Johnson with the No. 2 overall pick out of Georgia Tech in 2007, they have compiled an abysmal record of 47-86 — including the first 0-16 season in NFL history, and a good start on the second.

Still, Johnson, 30, said he doesn’t get beaten down by the losses, nor think about what life might’ve been had he gone to a good franchise.

“I just think about the positives, man,” he said. “I love playing this game with the guys I get to play with. I get to play with some great players and I get to play against some great competition.

“So, at the end of the day, it’s a great opportunity that we’re given that not everybody is able to take part in. So I’m still very fortunate to be able to play the game.”

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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