Black and Blue all over: That Johnson guy again


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
We are working on a story that pegs Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson as an emerging star in the NFC North, and Johnson keeps giving us more material.

Quite simply, he put on a show Sunday night in the Lions' 27-10 preseason victory at Cincinnati -- catching three passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in the first two series of the game. Here's a breakdown:

  • Lions' first play from scrimmage: 40-yard reception, leaping over Bengals cornerback Leon Hall.

  • Lions' fifth play from scrimmage: 9-yard reception.

  • Lions' sixth play from scrimmage: 27-yard touchdown. On the play, Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph was flagged for illegal contact at the line of scrimmage. It didn't matter. Johnson shoved Joseph aside and ran his route.

We are only midway through the preseason here. But if nothing else, Johnson appears unencumbered by the back injury that slowed him his rookie season. He is showing why he was the No. 2 overall pick of the 2007 draft, having caught seven passes for 154 yards in FOUR offensive series, and the Lions are giggling with excitement.

As are we ... as we head into another week covering the NFC North.

  • Technically, Lions quarterback Jon Kitna has been perfect this preseason. He has achieved the NFL's highest passer rating (158.3) in both of the Lions' preseason games.

  • Detroit started a rookie backfield Sunday night: Tailback Kevin Smith and fullback Jerome Felton.

  • The Green Bay Packers are planning no changes to the configuration of their offensive line, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. So despite a rough night Saturday in San Francisco, Jason Spitz and Josh Sitton are expected to continue working with the first team when practice resumes Monday night.

  • Packers running back Noah Herron opens up about a scary summer incident in which he fought off intruders inside his Wisconsin home.

  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune thinks Chicago coach Lovie Smith should do everyone a favor and name Kyle Orton the Bears' starting quarterback. "... There hasn't been enough carry-over into games to convince anybody the drawn-out process was better than just naming a starter from Day 1," Haugh writes.

  • As quarterback Tarvaris Jackson heals from a sprained right knee, the Minnesota Vikings are trying to figure out if they have a roster spot for receiver Martin Nance. Nance is competing for the No. 6 receiving job -- if the Vikings end up keeping six receivers -- but was impressive Saturday night in Baltimore, catching three passes for 74 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.