Ex-Lions WR Calvin Johnson earned Jenkins’ respect

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Bloomington, Minn. — It’s been two years since Calvin Johnson has retired, but Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins still hasn’t seen anyone quite like the former Detroit Lions receiver.

During a Super Bowl media session Tuesday, Jenkins was asked which player he was the most afraid to face. Not surprisingly, he didn’t concede to fearing anyone, but Johnson left quite an impression on Jenkins, dating to his rookie season with New Orleans in 2009.

“I’m not afraid to play against anybody, but one of the players I had the most respect for was Calvin Johnson because the first play I ever had in the NFL was against him, and it turned into about a 60-yard gain,” Jenkins said. “He was one of the most dominant receivers in this game, and I had a lot of respect for him as a player.”

Jenkins, the Saints’ first-round pick that year, wasn’t the only notable player making his debut. It was also the first game for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who finished 16 for 37 for 205 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions in the 45-27 loss.

Johnson caught three passes for 90 yards that game, including the play highlighted by Jenkins, a 64-yard catch and run in the third quarter. Johnson hauled in a post pattern and broke two tackles before stepping out of bounds at the 3-yard line.

Things didn’t go any better the last time Jenkins saw Johnson, Thanksgiving, 2015. It was a performance to remember, as he caught eight passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns, the final multi-score outing of his career in the 45-14 victory.