I had forgotten that Detroit Lions receiver Nate Burleson said this spring that teammate Calvin Johnson appeared faster than he had during his record-setting performance in 2011. A week into the Lions' training camp, reporters asked offensive coordinator Scott Linehan if Burleson's assessment was accurate.
"It's hard to believe," Linehan said. "But I think he's right. Calvin's an exception to the rule. If anybody could maybe take a day off here, you know, reps off here, we'd probably pick him. But he's not going to do that and the reason he's gotten better is because he works hard every day. So it's a good lesson for everybody to learn who wants to follow an athlete. I can't think of anyone better than him."
Sharing a bit of a secret: I've spent part of CampTour'12 asking players and coaches about the challenge of facing big wide receivers like Johnson, the Chicago Bears' Brandon Marshall and the Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson, among others. Most of our discussions have centered around the receivers' height and catch radius. Speed is a whole different animal in this context.
I'll be at Lions camp next week. A faster Calvin Johnson? I'll have my stopwatch in tow.