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Friday, October 11, 2013
Musings on missing a Megatron

By Pat McManamon

Will there be a  Megatron sighting in Cleveland this weekend?

More important, would the Cleveland Browns mind at all if there isn’t?

One might think that the Browns hearts' would not really be broken if Calvin Johnson, the super-special receiver on the Detroit Lions, missed his second game in a row. Johnson sat out Sunday’s loss to Green Bay, and the Lions' offense suffered accordingly as Detroit scored just nine points against the Packers.

Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson sat out the Lions' last game against Green Bay and he could be a game-time decision to play against the Browns.
“The team and the Browns fans might not want him out there, and I might not want him out there, too,” cornerback Joe Haden said.

Then he smiled, to indicate he was only half-kidding.

Because there is no doubt that the Lions without Johnson are a completely different team than when he plays. Johnson opens up the field for Reggie Bush. He spaces the offense properly. And with second receiver Nate Burleson also hurt the Lions lack a legitimate threat at receiver without Johnson, which makes them a lot easier to defend.

“If you’re missing him,” Haden said. “It’s going to be a completely different offense.”

Because Johnson is that good.

“Look at the dude,” Haden said. “He’s huge, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast. There’s nothing else you have to really know about how he’s so good.”

Haden will be the guy assigned to cover Johnson. That’s his role this season. The Browns defensive staff finds the other team’s best weapon in the passing game, and says “You go, Joe.”

“He’s got the ability and the mindset to accept that challenge,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.

Haden was given the role against Cincinnati’s A.J. Green. The Browns corner kept Green out of the end zone, and limited him to just more than seven yards per catch in a seven-catch, 51-yard game. Green congratulated Haden on playing so well.

Now comes one of the few players better than Green, the guy whose freakish abilities earned him his nickname.

The Browns do not wish injury on any player. But might they not be broken-hearted if Megatron is watching the way he was in Green Bay?

“I like seeing teams at full-strength when we play them,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “I think it’s always nice to see the most competitive team against ours.”

D’Qwell Jackson wouldn't even touch the question.

Haden, the guy most affected by Johnson’s absence and presence, did.

“It’s always good to go against the best,” Haden said. “But if he doesn’t it’s a big help (to the defense) and a big knock for their offense.”