Detroit’s rookie quarterback practiced every day this week, so it would seem that he had no setbacks on the recovery of his knee. Therefore, Matthew Stafford is expected to be back under center this Sunday. His supposed number one target, on the other hand, was very limited in practice this week and is still listed as “Questionable” in the injury report. This means that there is a good chance that the only Johnson we will see catching passes on Sunday is Bryant, not Calvin.
The Rams are the weakest team Detroit has played yet this year, and there is a better than even chance that the Lions could win without Megatron on the field. That notion may be creeping around in the back of Coach Jim Schwartz’s noggin. He is probably more willing to let Calvin Johnson have another week to heal than he would be if the Lions were playing a better team.
That might be a mistake, especially since a loss to the lowly Rams would be emotionally devastating both for Detroit’s players and their fans. Schwartz may be hesitant to rush Calvin Johnson back to the lineup in what he thinks is a non-pivotal game. That sentiment is understandable, since recriminations would be loud and angry should Johnson reinjure himself. Still, they will be even louder and angrier if the Rams manage to pull off their first win of the season at Ford Field.
These are the little decisions that are the bane of head coaches. If the Lions win and Johnson gets hurt, Schwartz will get blamed for taking an unnecessary risk. If the Lions lose with Johnson on the bench, Schwartz will get blamed for being too cautious.
If Calvin Johnson’s knee won’t let him perform at a competitive level, then of course he should sit the game out. But with Detroit needing a win against a struggling team, Schwartz shouldn’t be too cautious if Johnson can play. Schwartz seems like the kind of coach who is willing to roll the dice to win games. If Johnson is on the bench Sunday, my guess is it’s because he is too hurt to help the team, not because Schwartz is afraid to risk further injury.