Apparently, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson will not play in the Pro Bowl. The NFL tweeted Thursday that Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery will replace Johnson as one of the receivers in the game.
This is the smart move for Johnson and for the Lions that he sit this game out. There is exactly zero reason for him to play in the game in Hawaii, not after the season he endured.
He missed two games due to injury and was severely limited in two others. Former coach Jim Schwartz said Johnson likely will have to have surgery on his knee in the offseason to clear up loose bodies in the knee.
So no reason for him to risk further injury in the game. Not with the importance of knees to a wide receiver and with his importance to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Add to that Detroit will have a new coach with a new offensive scheme shortly, and the Lions need Johnson to be healthy throughout minicamps and OTAs to learn the new system and to ensure his timing remains with his quarterback.
He missed his first games since 2010 this season and the fifth and sixth games of his career this season, so durability hasn't been an issue in the past, but it is only the second time in his career he missed more than one game in a season.
Even in 14 games he still put up massive numbers, catching 84 passes for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. But he also had a career-high nine drops and by the end of the season looked like a player badly in need of a rest.
He dropped two passes against Baltimore, was extremely limited against the New York Giants before not playing at all in the season finale against Minnesota.
Johnson can still go to Hawaii if he wants and can still enjoy all the perks of being a Pro Bowler and one of the top players in the game. Much like the season finale he didn't play in, there is little reason for him to play in a game that is essentially meaningless.