- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson chuckled when asked about comments by Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam, who called the three-time Pro Bowler "pretty old" on Wednesday.
"I'm getting old," Johnson said in a conference call Thursday with Baltimore reporters. "It's all good. I'll show him what that old man's strength [is] about, though."
Johnson, 28, who is six years older than Elam, wasn't taken aback when he learned of what the rookie said about him.
"It doesn't surprise me because he don't have to see me on the field," Johnson said. "So he can talk all he wants. He plays back, and I don't see him every play unless I run past him. I'm not worried about it."
The conference call began with Johnson being asked about the Ravens' secondary. Johnson described the team's safeties as "kind of young," likely a poke at what Elam said the previous day.
Johnson said that, in general, the Ravens' safeties are "nothing extraordinary."
"Those are definitely guys we can make plays on," he said.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh discussed Elam's comments Thursday.
"I think everybody's old to Matt Elam," coach John Harbaugh said. "Matt's pretty young. Hopefully, he learns from his opportunity to speak to the media."
Johnson is second in the league with 1,351 receiving yards. He has 75 catches and 12 touchdowns. He is 49 yards from becoming the third player with 1,400 receiving yards in three straight seasons, joining Marvin Harrison (1999-2002) and Jerry Rice (1993-95).
The situation with Elam is similar to one two months ago, when Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said he was just as good as Johnson, who then put up 329 receiving yards against the Cowboys, the second-biggest receiving game in NFL history.
"Anything negative that comes at me throughout the week, you just take it and put it in that box over there for motivation and use it on Sunday," Johnson said.
Harbaugh was upset in the fact that Elam's comments could provide extra motivation for Johnson, one of the game's best receivers.
"I don't appreciate it. It doesn't help us," Harbaugh said. "Get a guy like Calvin Johnson all fired up, that's not really the idea.
"I don't think they needed that to get fired up," Harbaugh said. "But we didn't need to give it to them either."
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't think Elam's comments were meant to be offensive
"I don't know, you just look at him and smile and kind of shake your head and what are you doing? You know, I don't think whatever he said was that bad," Flacco said. "It wasn't really trash talking or anything from what I heard. I don't know exactly what he said. But you just kind of look at him and say, 'Dude, what are you thinking? It's Calvin Johnson.' It's kind of just funny that he put himself in a situation like that.."
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith offered a similar view.
"Honestly, it doesn't bother me," Smith said. "Would you think that Calvin Johnson is not going to come to a Monday night game on national TV and not his best game anyway because a rookie said something? I doubt it. It's poster board stuff. You can look at it as much as you want. To Matt Elam, he's 22 years and he's a rookie. He thinks I'm old and I'm 25. To him, he meant it as a vet. If they're going to take it as poster board and 'we're going to play even harder now,' then they didn't have the right mentality coming in to play Monday night."
In Allen Park, Mich., Lions receiver Nate Burleson said Johnson hadn't even been aware of Elam's comments until his teammates told him about them.
"I joke with Calvin all the time that he's oblivious to a lot of stuff, which is why he kind of stays focused because he doesn't get into things people say," Burleson said, adding that Johnson laughed when told about Elam's remarks.
"It was kind of one of those laughs, like a 'we'll see about that' laugh. I think it was funny. Got something planned for that. It's good motivation, and it's tools for me, for my celebrations," Burleson said.
Burleson characterized Elam's remarks as a typical rookie mistake and said he doesn't understand "why he would throw shots at the beast."
"While I think it's pretty funny, maybe he's not watching the same film I'm watching, but from what I see out of Calvin, he's physical, he's fast, he's a freak, he's unstoppable. He's definitely not old," he said. "Make sure that we all [have] our proper medication and lube these old bones up and see what happens Monday night."
If Johnson reaches 100 yards, he'll become the first player in NFL history with at least eight 100-yard receiving games in three consecutive seasons.
Information from ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein and ESPN Stats & Information was included in this report.
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