Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught a career-high 96 passes for an NFL-high 1,681 yards and a personal best 16 touchdowns in 2011, earning a second straight trip to the Pro Bowl and a seven-year, $113.45 million contract extension in March.
So what would Johnson like to see in 2012? An improved running game, Rob Beard of The Detroit News reports.
“Last year, the running game wasn’t really there and we threw the ball all day,” Johnson said on Tuesday. “Matt (Stafford) had a heck of a year, throwing over 5,000 yards — not to say he won’t throw for 5,000 again. But if we have a consistent running game, that’s a lot of passes we don’t have to throw and we can run some time off the clock.”
Johnson echos the sentiments of Stafford, who last week said he would gladly give up some of his statistics for a more balanced offense that helps them win more games.
“If we had it our way, we’d be a little bit more balanced, and no, I don’t really care if I throw for 5,000 yards,” Stafford said according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. “Obviously it was a great team accomplishment last year. But at the same time I’d throw for 4,000 and win a couple more games.”
Healthy returns from Mikel Leshoure (who could face league discipline following two marijuana-related arrests this off-season) and Jahvid Best should help the Lions achieve that balance in 2012.