Just a few days removed from ending a week-long holdout, rookie Lions' receiver Calvin Johnson will be thrown to ... the Bengals.
That was the sentiment delivered by offensive coordinator Mike Martz following Tuesday's practice, as the team begins to prepare for its exhibition opener on Thursday.
"Oh yeah, we're going to see him a lot in this game," said Martz, who is notorious for using a myriad of plays during preseason contests -- along with wanting extended playing time for his starters. "We're going to see him a lot in the preseason. He's got to learn how to play in this league.
"We're going to wear his little froggy rear end out, so he'll be ready."
Johnson's rear end has been running non-stop since signing a $64 million deal last week. He has responded, too, continuing to make acrobatic grabs and fulfilling the demands on Detroit's receiving core. And although Martz plans on making Johnson earn his keep, he is also proceeding with caution.
"You know, it's hard, because, what'll happen to him is he's going to hit the wall after about two weeks, physically," said Martz. "His legs will get real tired. So you've got to give him kind of a reprieve. Right now, he's going to get stressed physically pretty good; then we'll try and back off and help him out with that. He just has to get used to the cost and have him get back in the huddle and go full speed kind of a deal. There's no way you can prepare yourself for that until you're here in camp. That's what he's got to go through right now. Of course, when that happens, just the sharpness of what you do, the routes and seeing the ball, you know, all those things kind of mentally, they've got to get used to that, they have to play with that."
Thus far, however, Martz has been impressed with Johnson in camp.
"He's a remarkable player," he said. "He's a remarkable young man, so he'll be fine. Some of the things that the first day he struggled with he did really well out here (today), so you can see the progress."
Johnson is expected to see ample time with quarterbacks J.T. O'Sullivan and Dan Orlovsky. The Lions haven't yet determined the length of playing time for any starter, including Jon Kitna, but it's unlikely that Kitna will play beyond a series or two -- if at all. That is because Martz is interested in seeing how the reserve signal-callers play -- and in particular, O'Sullivan.
The former NFL Europe standout has seen a tremendous increase in repetitions of late, even prompting some reporters to draw comparisons to former Martz project- turned-All Pro Kurt Warner. Warner led the Rams to two Super Bowls under Martz.
"I think the qualities that you look for in a quarterback that you really do not know anything about – and, by the way, when they come through the door, I have no preconceived idea what anybody should be. That's just not how we are," explained Martz. "Accuracy is paramount to everything. If they're accurate and they're smart, and they can learn what we do, then they've got a heck of a chance. He's both of those things. Now, he's going to make a lot of mistakes and do all those things, but the bottom line is, he does a real nice job accuracy wise, and he has real good retention.
"Things are going to go really fast for him. We're trying to slow him down a little bit and I think that'll really help him."
When pressed further, Martz backed away from drawing any comparisons.
"They're so different. I don't know enough about (O'Sullivan). Warner was a pretty unique individual; I don't know if anybody is like him. What (O'Sullivan) does, some of the strengths that he has, he can see things really well like Jon (Kitna) does. The recognition and where to go with the ball is pretty special with them. The accuracy is very special, so we'll just see what he does with it under pressure."
Martz was also complimentary of Orlovsky, and hasn't yet yielded that O'Sullivan has surpassed the former fifth-round pick on the depth chart.
"Danny's had those reps, so we want to put them kind of on an even scale, so to speak, and then I think that's the best way to evaluate them," said Martz.
Kick-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.