Williams Who? Lions' Johnson Turning Heads

You can't fault Kevin Johnson (above, with Ravens) if he feels he has something to prove. And you certainly can't fault anyone if Johnson got lost in a mix that includes three receivers with a load of star potential. Quotes inside from mini-camp star Kevin Johnson and Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci inside.

You can't fault Kevin Johnson if he feels he has something to prove. And you certainly can't fault anyone if Johnson got lost in a mix that includes three receivers with a load of star potential.

But that is the way the first two days of Lions' receiver-camp has played out. While Mike and Roy Williams have turned in impressive camp performances, with Charles Rogers anxiously sidelined, it has been Johnson's precise route running and acrobatic catches that have garnered the attention. Don't expect it to end.

"We have been talking about the other three most of the time, but if you sit back and watch you can tell that the guy is not a rookie," said head coach Steve Mariucci following Saturday's session. "He knows what is going on, he is smart, he learns quickly and he knows how to get open. He has all the tricks and it is good to have him."

Tricks would include outrunning cornerback Fernando Bryant to a Joey Harrington 40-yard flyball. On Friday, it floated into his outstretched hands. Today, he used just one arm.

It isn't as though Johnson isn't used to being overlooked. The six-year veteran has spent the past three seasons with three different teams. In 2005, it will be his fourth ball club. But in each tour stop, he's been productive; forced to command respect.

In his rookie season, Johnson led the Browns with 66 grabs. Two seasons later, he grabbed 84 balls for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns. And, in a move that still has the city of Cleveland scratching its collective head, Johnson was unceremoniously released after a benching in 2003. Number one to Number zero, just like that.

So, excuse Kevin Johnson if he feels he has something to prove.

After spending a 58-catch season in Jacksonville, Johnson enjoyed a part-time role with Baltimore in 2004. Recognizing the talent in Detroit, and an offense that was desperate for a sure-handed receiver, he left the Ravens for the Motor City via free-agency.

A fresh start to his career. Hope springs eternal. All that stuff.

And one week ago, the Lions surprisingly drafted big Mike Williams from USC. The new third receiver. In a span of 1 minute and 38 seconds (the amount of time it took Detroit to invest in BMW), Johnson was relegated to the fourth spot.

Please, pardon Kevin Johnson if he feels he has something to prove.

Yet, Johnson remains the eternal optimist.

"No matter what you say, you can have as many receivers as you want; there are enough balls to go around," Johnson told the media on Saturday. "One thing I like about these guys is that there's no selfishness from anyone. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed. ...a lot of times, you can get to a place that looks good on paper, but in actuality it really is not as good as you think it is."

Johnson's betting on the former.

"There are still enough things that can be done for myself. They're young, no one is older than 23 years old, and I think that is a pretty young group of guys. The thing is, they're eager to learn and eager to get better. Hopefully we can just try to make this thing work well.

"It's going to be a fun year for me."

He doesn't need to tell us.

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