Lions' Smith Looking for Groove; CJ Back?

Lions' running back Kevin Smith (still) wants to silence his critics. And Calvin Johnson might help with that effort. Injury news, notes and quotes inside ...

The Lions need to get one offensive weapon back. They need to get another one in gear.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson has missed two games with a right knee injury. He was listed as limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, and coach Jim Schwartz said he would be a game-time decision Sunday at Seattle.

But Johnson continued to look good in the portion of practice open to reporters, and he sounded somewhat optimistic that he would be able to return against the Seahawks.

"We're going to just be careful, do what I can do," Johnson said. "As long as I don't have any setbacks, I think it'll look brighter for Sunday."

Johnson said he felt no pressure to return because of the Lions' struggles on offense without him. But the Lions need him back not only because of the plays he makes, but because of how he opens up the offense for others.

"He's not just a guy that you can bump and run with because he's so big," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "You've got to put help over the top a lot of times, and teams don't like to single him up. It changes their philosophy."

Running back Kevin Smith could use a safety out of the box. He is likely to play after leaving Sunday's game against St. Louis with a shoulder injury -- the second such problem he has had this season -- and knows he needs to produce better.


Lions RB Kevin Smith is averaging 3.1 yards per carry, ranking among the lowest among starting running backs in the NFC.
getty images

Coach Jim Schwartz has talked about breaking big runs. Smith's longest is 20 yards. He averages 3.1 yards per carry.

"We're all looking to kind of quiet the critics that Detroit doesn't have a running game," Smith said. "Because I get the ball first, I want to be that tempo-setter and that lead dog. I think enough's enough."

The Lions are trying to give Maurice Morris and rookie Aaron Brown a few more carries, while keeping Smith as the No. 1 back.

"We've got to, between the three of them, come up with a productive plan in the run game to win," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "We haven't gotten there yet."

Smith bristled and declined to comment when asked if the coaches were increasing competition. But earlier he talked about feeling heat.

"The coaches have expectations," Smith said. "Of course you want to prove to them that you can do your thing, but the most pressure is coming from myself, because I didn't come in this league to be a bottom-list rusher. ...

"I've got to stick with it. If it's not going my way, there's two things you can do: You can give up, or you can get better. There's only one option for me."

Player Notebook:

  • RB Kevin Smith was listed as limited Thursday after sitting out Wednesday because of a shoulder injury. He likely will play Sunday at Seattle.
  • QB Matthew Stafford was listed as limited Wednesday and Thursday. He said he had more soreness than usual after returning from a right knee injury Sunday, but he said it was no big deal. He will play Sunday.
  • WR Calvin Johnson was listed as limited Wednesday and Thursday, and coach Jim Schwartz said he would be a game-time decision Sunday. But Johnson seemed somewhat optimistic that he would play.
  • DE Jason Hunter was listed as limited Wednesday and Thursday. He has missed two games with an ankle injury.
  • DE Dewayne White was listed as limited Wednesday and Thursday. He returned to the lineup Sunday from a hamstring injury.
  • FB Jerome Felton was listed as limited Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury. He did not play Sunday.
  • DT Grady Jackson was listed as limited Wednesday and did not practice Thursday. But that has been the routine for the 36-year-old who had knee surgery in the off-season.

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