|Is Calvin Johnson better than Randy Moss was in his prime? Nate Burleson says yes. (US Presswire)|
Detroit's receiving corps was able to resume normal preparations for Sunday's meeting with San Francisco when WR Calvin Johnson returned to practice Thursday. Johnson was held out of Wednesday's practice with a foot injury, but he says the decision to rest him was just a precaution.
"My foot feels good," Johnson said. "Just wanted to give it a day to rest (Wednesday) to get out here and stress it today. You want to stress it on a day like today -- our big run day -- so you can see how it will respond (Sunday)."
Sunday's game features a matchup between Johnson, a player regarded by many as the best receiver in the game today, and 49ers' receiver Randy Moss, who held that distinction in his prime.
Statistically, Johnson has a way to go to catch Moss' performance over the first five years of his career. Moss had 6,743 receiving yards and scored 60 touchdowns during his first five NFL seasons. Johnson has 5,983 yards and 49 scores in a similar time frame. He amassed those numbers with a veritable merry-go-round of quarterbacks, however, while Moss was part of a more stable Vikings' offensive unit.
The Lions have gone out of their way to give Moss -- whom they call a Hall-of-Fame caliber player -- seemingly endless respect in the buildup to Sunday's game. WR Nate Burleson, who has played with Moss and Johnson, says they have similar leadership styles.
"They're both quiet, they stick to themselves,” Burleson said. “They'd rather lead by example than go out there and rah-rah.”
When pressed on which player was better over the first five years of his career, Burleson said Johnson had a slight advantage -- a view he says isn't shared by members of his family.
"Yeah, [my brothers] argue for Moss," Burleson said. "Then we pop in the tape and there are days when I waver and see Moss highlights. Then I call them back during the summer and say, 'Nah, you should have seen this play Calvin made today. He's a living legend.' "
Regardless of whether Moss or Johnson finishes his career with the most achievements and accolades, Burleson says he feels honored to have played with two of the game's best.
“When I was playing with Randy I thought to myself, ‘I will never play with another receiver like this. He's the best I've ever seen,'” he said. “Now that I'm playing with Calvin, I say ‘I'll never play with another receiver like this. He's the best I've ever seen.' ”
“I'm just honored to have played Robin to their Batman.”
OC Scott Linehan: Leshoure should be up to speed when suspension ends: RB Mikel Leshoure hasn't been allowed to practice with the Lions while he serves a two-game suspension for a pair of offseason drug-related incidents. A change to the NFL's suspension policy, however, allowed him to attend meetings and train with the team off the field. Leshoure will be eligible to return to practice Sept. 17, and his arrival will add a much-needed power rushing aspect to the Lions' offense. Linehan says he's been pleased with Leshoure's off-field effort.
"[Leshoure has] been working extremely hard,” Linehan said. “I know he's been able to work with the strength coaches and get a lot of training that is going to benefit him."
Injury Report: The Lions listed six players in addition to Johnson [full participation] on the Thursday practice report. Did not practice: CB Bill Bentley (concussion), S Louis Delmas (knee), DE Lawrence Jackson (calf), LB Travis Lewis (quad) and DT Corey Williams (knee). Limited practice: CB Chris Houston (ankle).