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Sunday, October 6, 2013
Detroit at a major loss without Johnson

By Michael Rothstein

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Detroit’s attempt to win in Green Bay for the first time in more than two decades just became a lot more difficult.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson won’t play Sunday for the Lions, and with him out, the entire scope of the team’s offense changes.

No longer can Detroit count on teams paying attention to Johnson deep, leaving open the short passing game for running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Now, Green Bay can focus more on the stopping that facet of the Lions' offense, almost daring them to go deep with an inexperienced group of receivers.

Kris Durham has good hands but isn’t known for his speed. Ryan Broyles is more effective in the slot. Patrick Edwards has a lot of speed but has been out the past two weeks and has not shown to be extremely reliable in the past.

Then there’s new receiver Kevin Ogletree. He was signed earlier this week after being released by Tampa Bay. On his first day with the Lions, he talked about how he wanted to be active Sunday and wanted to have whatever role Detroit would give him.

Now, it might be a big one.

Ogletree has shown flashes during his four years with Dallas that he could be a big-play receiver if needed, but now he’ll have to do it less than a week in with his new team.

Detroit also could use its three tight ends even more heavily than it did a week ago, when Brandon Pettigrew caught seven passes.

So the Lions have options; just none of them looks even close to the best wide receiver in the NFL. And to win in Green Bay, you need that guy to be healthy. You just do.

The good news, if there is any, for Detroit is that cornerback Chris Houston is active. The Lions will need every bit of defensive help, as there is now a large offensive deficiency Sunday.