Johnson learning the ropes -- quickly

Before the end of Tuesday's practice, Lions' rookie receiver Calvin Johnson had listened to enough advice to have difficulty remembering anything at all. But it's the repetitive, constant drilling that will allow him to mesh with the Lions' offensive unit. Comments from quarterback Jon Kitna and head coach Rod Marinelli on the rookie's fast-track into Detroit's offense.

At one point during Tuesday's opening moments of mini-camp, veteran receiver Roy Williams pulled rookie first-round pick Calvin Johnson to the side, handing a tidbit of knowledge to the Georgia Tech phenom.

Later on, he did it again. And again. And again. Near the end of the first practice, starting quarterback Jon Kitna did the same.

Before the end of the day, Johnson had listened to enough advice to have difficulty remembering anything at all. But it's the repetitive, constant drilling that will allow him to mesh with the Lions' offensive unit.

"The great thing is he breaks the huddle and doesn't have that quizzical look on his face," said Kitna after the team's initial day of mini-camp. "That's the great thing right now. You know that he's going to be ahead of the curve at some point, and right now, as quarterbacks we're just kind of going through the reads and not trying to search a guy out. But certainly, he's going to be used to the fullest this year I would imagine."

Johnson didn't necessarily 'wow' anyone in attendance on Tuesday, but rarely had the opportunity. While Williams and Kitna connected a handful of times, the youngster was taking up residence as the 'pupil' among his veteran comrades. It is a role that Kitna believes will allow Johnson to flourish.

"I think that's the great thing," he said. "He's coming into a situation where we're not asking him to be our number one receiver. He's not going to have to learn three different spots and all that stuff. He's going to have a package of plays that gets added to each week.

"All he does is stretch the field more for us, both in the passing game, but I think more importantly in the running game."

Head coach Rod Marinelli said the addition of veterans Shaun McDonald and Marcus Robinson will both ease the transition for Johnson, meanwhile mold a solid receiving core that shouldn't suffer from the injury-riddled drawbacks experienced last season.

"No question. We have two guys who proved it last year," said Marinelli. "One (Roy Williams) went to the Pro Bowl, the other led the NFC in receptions (Mike Furrey). It's not our status from where they were at before, it's not about status. They did it and it is on film. Those two guys come in and we've added some youth to it, so we're excited about that. We've added a couple veteran free agents that have done it.

"Everything is about what they've done. The young guy (Calvin Johnson) has to get up and go and put his on tape too."

Kitna said progress is already evident.

"Coming out of the huddle, bam, he's out there," he said. "You see guys who've been in it for a year and they still have got that kind of ‘I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do' look, but he doesn't have that so he's either fooling us or he knows what he's doing."


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