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Published: Thursday, 12/18/2008

Johnson's stats great, but no bowl

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Calvin Johnson knows why he isn't going to the Pro Bowl.

The Detroit Lions wide receiver also knows why Good Morning America was at practice yesterday.

While it would be too late to salvage a trip to Honolulu, he and his teammates have two chances to avoid going down in history as the NFL's first 0-16 team.

"We just need to win a game," Johnson said. "We don't want to think about 0-16 - we just want to go out and get a win. We're still playing hard and we've come close, but we need to get over that hump."

Even though the Lions haven't won a game, Johnson has turned into the dominant playmaker that the Lions expected when they picked him with the second pick of the 2007 draft.

He currently ranks fifth in the league in receiving yards with 1,165 and tied for second in touchdowns with 10. His seven receptions of 40-plus yards is tied for the NFL lead with San Diego's Vincent Jackson and Green Bay's Greg Jennings.

Johnson has accomplished all that despite the Lions using a team-record five quarterbacks and losing their other three receiving threats through trade (Roy Williams) or injury (Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey).

"I think Calvin is one of the premiere athletes and receivers in this league," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "He might not have been selected to the Pro Bowl, but he has gotten the attention of coaches all over this league, I can tell you that."

Johnson wasn't surprised that he was only named as a second alternate to the NFC's Pro Bowl team.

"I know I have the numbers, but you aren't going to get much positive recognition when you are 0-14," he said.

Johnson didn't think his was the most egregious snub in the Detroit locker room, pointing instead to kicker Jason Hanson, who has had the greatest long-distance kicking season in NFL history.

"Not only should Jason be in the Pro Bowl, he's one of the greatest kickers this sport has ever seen," Johnson said. "But no one knows that. All they know is 0-14."

Johnson's chances of helping the Lions win that elusive first game might be helped by the return of Dan Orlovsky after a hand injury. With Orlovsky back on Sunday, Johnson caught a career-best nine balls in a 31-21 loss to the Colts, including a touchdown for the eighth time in 10 games.

"Calvin Johnson's a great player," said Colts coach Tony Dungy.

"He's a big guy who's athletic and they worked the ball to him and he came through for them."

The Lions hope for even more Sunday against New Orleans.

"We know that Calvin is our playmaker," Marinelli said. "We're going to keep looking for more ways to get him the ball.



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