Monday, May 20, 2013
Megatron: Good hands and broken fingers
By Kevin Seifert
In February, we learned that Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson played at least the final four games of the regular season with a sports hernia that ultimately required offseason surgery. Peterson, of course, finished the season with the second most rushing yards in a season (2,097) in NFL history.
Now it's time to recognize another feat that was no less impressive.
Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson acknowledged Monday to reporters that he played most of last season with broken fingers on his left hand. Johnson, you might recall, set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards in 2012.
According to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, Johnson said he has been spending the offseason "pretty much trying to get them back straight, trying to straighten them things out."
Johnson said he has not had surgery and credited at least part of his 2012 success on apparently not realizing the fingers were broken.
"I had a couple of injuries but nothing that prohibited me from doing what I needed to do," Johnson said. "The thing with a lot of football players, you have injuries, but unless you know about it you just think it's something that hurts and you keep on playing."
Much like a sports hernia should have slowed down Peterson's running ability, it's difficult to imagine how Johnson was so effective with injuries to a body part so vital to his position.
I guess we should note that Johnson did drop eight passes last season, tied for the ninth most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. But when viewed to scale, that figure is a blip. Those eight drops came amid a league-high 200 targets, giving Johnson a drop rate of 4.0 percent. The more passes you are thrown, of course, the better your chances are for having a higher drop total. Last season, however, 81 NFL players dropped passes at a higher rate per target.
Generally speaking, you can assume that few NFL players are 100 percent by the end of a season. Even those who played in 16 games deal with some level of injury along the way. But in Johnson's case, as with Peterson, the ailments did nothing to stop a record-setting season.