EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Calvin Johnson stood at his locker Sunday afternoon and laughed at the suggestion. His coach, Jim Caldwell, had said that Johnson at 90 percent was better than a lot of players at full strength.
Except Johnson, when he was asked if 90 percent was a fair barometer for his status, was not there.
“Nah,” Johnson said, laughing at the suggestion.
Johnson was limited during the Detroit Lions' 24-17 win over the New York Jets on Sunday after being questionable to play with an ankle injury suffered against Green Bay last week. He was used far less than he had been in the Lions’ first three games, when he was typically in the game for at least 75 percent of the plays.
On Sunday, he rarely played two plays in a row and was only targeted twice by quarterback Matthew Stafford, catching both of those passes for 12 yards. He didn’t have his typical explosiveness or speed and after the game was still noticeably limping.
“Went out there. It was tough but I figured from moving around [on Saturday] that I’d be able to get on the field a little bit,” Johnson said. “It’s good to be out there with the fellas. It sucks to be on the sideline and not be able to play at all. It sucks to have injuries, too, but that’s just part of the game.”
There were times Sunday when Johnson would be in the huddle before a drive began, only to come off the field before the first play even started. He said after that was not a decoy or anything tricky by the Lions but a matter of the plays being called.
He said it was somewhat like when he was limited against Cleveland last season. Against the Browns that day, he had three catches for 25 yards and only ran 28 routes.
“They still had to account for him,” Caldwell said. “We might not have done all of the things that we normally do with him. We just tried to make certain we stayed within the framework of what he could do physically.”
That didn’t appear to be too much Sunday and it isn’t clear how much that will change heading into next week. Johnson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and then was limited during Friday’s practice.
Johnson said he improved throughout the week to get to the point he was at -- and he was expecting more of the same over the next seven days.
“Things have gotten better all week,” Johnson said. “It was a struggle at first and as the week progressed it got better and better and expect the same thing this week.”