He had played 51 percent of the Lions' snaps on Sunday (38 of 74), and that was as much by design of plays as it was having Johnson’s knee hold up enough.
“We had just planned on using him in certain situations,” coach Jim Schwartz said Monday. “There’s some things that we thought he could still do and some things that we didn’t want to put him in that situation.
“So it was just going really by play call. But in the second half, he was feeling OK and he played a little bit more.”
Schwartz said it is too early to determine if Johnson’s limited playing time Sunday had any effect on his health, but he was sore after the game.
“But he’s been sore after practice and stuff like that,” Schwartz said. “It’s too soon to really know if it was any worse or any better than it’s been. But I said it was encouraging he was able to get on the field for us. Even though he didn’t make a lot of plays, he made a couple of big first-down catches for us and he affected the game.
“I think they interfered with him on the one play in the red zone because he was in position to make a potential touchdown catch. Also affected the coverage and helped open up other guys.”
The biggest beneficiary was tight end Joseph Fauria, who had three touchdown catches. Johnson was on the field for those plays, forcing teams to make difficult decisions.
Do they double Johnson, the best receiver in the game? Or do they double the 6-foot-7 tight end with a proclivity for touchdowns? Or do they double both and play lighter against the run?
These are the decisions Detroit is hoping opponents have to make. So Fauria seeing more attention close to the end zone may not actually happen.
“I think that would depend,” Schwartz said. “If he starts to get more attention, somebody’s got to get less and generally that’s Calvin for us. So not many defenses want to do that.
“I think the dynamic between the two of those guys, a lot’s been made of the dynamic between Reggie and Calvin, but I think there is, in the red zone in particular, there’s another dynamic there that can force defenses to be spread thin a little bit.”
Fauria’s opportunity is coming, in part, due to the third concussion in four seasons to tight end Tony Scheffler.
Schwartz said Monday neither Scheffler nor rookie running back Theo Riddick, who also suffered a concussion, made the trip to Cleveland. And Schwartz wouldn’t speculate on the possibility of putting Scheffler on injured reserve. Schwartz also said any potential signing of a tight end would not be relative to Scheffler’s status.
“Him and Riddick are still being evaluated,” Schwartz said. “They didn’t make the trip but we’ve done that with a lot of guys that have been concussed. Travel is one of the things that can potentially set guys back, the pressurized environment on a plane and stadiums and stuff like that.
“So both of those guys didn’t travel with us this week. They are still being evaluated.”
Schwartz said they were still waiting on tests evaluating injuries to running back Joique Bell (ribs) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin), but he didn’t believe either one would be a long-term injury.