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Revis-Johnson Matchup a Mutual Challenge

Posted Nov 20, 2013

Wednesday notes: In terms of individual NFL matchups, you can't do much better than Calvin Johnson vs. Darrelle Revis, and the Bucs' star cornerback is looking forward to the meeting…Plus other notes

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Darrelle Revis and Calvin Johnson have met just one other time since both were drafted in the first round in 2007
  • The Buccaneers could be without three usual defensive starters on Sunday in Detroit
  • Several former Buccaneers could get some good news on the Hall of Fame on Wednesday night
On Wednesday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis referred to the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson as one of the best receivers in the NFL, then caught himself, realizing that wasn't sufficient praise for the man they call Megatron.

"He’s one of the best in the league…he’s the best," said Revis. "I’d say he’s the best receiver in the league. I’ve played him before and I’m very familiar with him. I’m looking forward to it this week.”

Moments later, Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy walked by and proposed that Revis take on the nickname of "Optimus Prime," the primary foe of Megatron in the giant-sentient-robot universe of the Transformers.  McCoy's suggestion got a laugh, but the Buccaneers' cornerback won't soon be losing the "Revis Island" moniker that marks him as perhaps the best player in the NFL at his position.

Indeed, this week's meeting between the Buccaneers and Lions features one of the most star-studded individual matchups possible in today's NFL, one worthy of a few explosion-filled Michael Bay scenes.

One year after setting an NFL single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards, the 6-5, 236-pound Johnson is racking up the stats at a nearly identical pace.  He averaged 122.8 yards per game in 2012 and is at 120.3 this year, and while he was somehow held to just five touchdowns all of last year Johnson has 11 already this season.

-- CB D. Revis has played an increasingly large amount of man-to-man coverage in recent weeks
Revis, meanwhile was widely considered the best cornerback in football and was ranked as the top defensive player in the league in the NFL Network Top 100 in 2012.  Revis has had to fight back from a season-ending knee injury suffered early in the 2012 season, and in the interim was acquired by the Buccaneers from the New York Jets via trade, but he has been as impressive as ever in 2013 and in recent weeks has spent more and more time in lockdown, man-to-man coverage, his trademark.  Through 11 weeks, in fact, Pro Football Focus has Revis as its top-ranked cornerback in the NFL.

There is little doubt that Revis and Johnson are going to see a lot of each other on Sunday at Ford Field, and the Buccaneer defender is looking forward to the challenge.

"I think everybody has a chip on their shoulder each week, just going out and playing and trying to compete," said Revis.  "When you match up the best against the best, [there’s] probably a little bit more chip on your shoulder because, at the end of the game, you want to get the best of that person. I’m sure Calvin feels the same way. We’ll see. I know Calvin, I know him off the field, and we’ll see. It’ll be fun.”

Calvin Johnson was the second overall pick in the NFL draft, Revis the 14th.  The two have faced each other just once in the NFL, a 2010 contest in Detroit in which Johnson caught just one pass for 13 yards in a 23-20 overtime win for Revis' Jets.  Johnson won't necessarily be contained that completely on Sunday, and he won't even necessarily be matched up against Revis on every play, but the Buccaneer defender does have a certain way in which he likes to approach the NFL's bigger receivers.  They don't get much bigger than Megatron.

“My thought was always just to be physical with them," said Revis.  "They’re big guys. I feel no receiver wants to get jammed or pressed at the line, so just be physical with those guys and match what they bring to the table.”

No matter who wins that battle at the line of scrimmage, Revis knows that Johnson is going to be a serious challenge for not just him but the entire Bucs' defense.

“They’re still doing the same stuff with him, moving him around in the slot," said Revis.  "Usually, when you put on the Detroit film, you see him throwing 70-, 80-yard bombs to Calvin Johnson. Our secondary, we need to be aware of that and be aware that it’s going to be a vertical passing attack this week.”

* As Schiano pointed out on Wednesday, the Detroit offense ranks among the top 10 in a variety of statistical categories (including yards and points per game, passing yards per game, interception percentage, sack percentage, first downs and third-down efficiency) and goes quite a bit deeper than just Calvin Johnson.  The Buccaneers may have to take on that high-powered attack without three of their usual starters on defense.

Free safety Dashon Goldson will definitely not be available, as he is serving a one-game suspension from the NFL for a hit on Atlanta's Roddy White in Week 11.  He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Keith Tandy, who also started games against Carolina and Seattle while Goldson was out with a knee injury.

"We have some other guys that can go in there and play, but Keith will assume that position and we have confidence that he’ll play well," said Schiano.  "Keith Tandy is a leader, he’s leader in that [2012] class and he’s a very smart football player. We have all the confidence in the world that he’ll step up like he did in the past and play well."

Starting middle linebacker Mason Foster is another significant question mark for Sunday.  Foster had one of the plays of the game on Sunday with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown, but he later suffered a concussion and missed a good portion of the win over Atlanta.  Foster stood with the team on the practice field on Wednesday but did not participate.  Veteran Adam Hayward, who has played all three linebacker positions during his seven-year Buccaneer career, would start if Foster cannot suit up in Detroit.

Rookie Johnthan Banks, the starter at right cornerback, was limited in Wednesday's practice and replaced by Leonard Johnson.  Schiano described the injury as "very painful" on Monday but said that Banks was feeling better on Wednesday.

For the Lions, Calvin Johnson was one of four players who did not participate in Wednesday's practice.  Johnson has been dealing with a knee injury that has cost him practice time frequently in recent weeks, though he has sat out only one game, in Week Five against Green Bay.  The full injury reports for both teams are below.

Buccaneers:

 

Player

Injury

Practice Status

CB Johnthan Banks

Shoulder

Limited Participation

DE Da'Quan Bowers

Concussion

Full Participation

LB Mason Foster

Concussion

Did Not Participate

G Davin Joseph

Knee

Full Participation

G Jamon Meredith

Ankle

Full Participation

G Carl Nicks

Foot

Did Not Participate

WR Chris Owusu

Foot

Full Participation

DT Akeem Spence

Wrist

Full Participation


Lions:

Player

Injury

Practice Status

DE Ezekiel Ansah

Ankle

Limited Participation

RB Joique Bell

Achilles

Did Not Participate

CB Bill Bentley

Knee

Limited Participation

WR Nate Burleson

Forearm

Limited Participation

S Louis Delmas

Knee

Limited Participation

DT Andre Fluellen

Thigh

Limited Participation

CB Jonte Green

Illness

Did Not Participate

TE Corey Hilliard

Knee

Full Participation

DE Israel Idonije

Knee

Limited Participation

WR Calvin Johnson

Knee

Did Not Participate

TE Brandon Pettigrew

Knee

Limited Participation

S Glover Quin

Achilles

Did Not Participate


* In August, former Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp became the second player primarily identified as a Buccaneer to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  On Wednesday, one or more of his former Buccaneer peers could take the next step towards joining him.

The process to determine the Hall's Class of 2014 began with the identification of 126 modern-era nominees in September.  Among the 16 first-year eligible candidate are four people who have significant ties to the Buccaneers: linebacker Derrick Brooks, running back Warrick Dunn and head coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden.  In addition, there are three returning candidates among the 126 with notable Buccaneer connections: wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell and safety John Lynch.

On Wednesday night, that list of 126 candidates will be culled to just 25, as the results of the first round of voting by the Selection Committee are revealed on NFL Network.  The Network will air a one-hour show called "The First Cut" on Wednesday, beginning at 10 p.m. ET.  Brooks and Dungy, in particular, are considered strong candidates to make it to the next cut, but Buccaneer fans will also be quite interested to see the fates of Lynch and Gruden, as well.

* Lonnie Pryor, the newest member of a Tampa Bay running back corps that has seen an unusual amount of change this season due to injuries, got into his first practice at Bucs headquarters on Wednesday.  It was an overcast day with occasional drops of rain, a nice change from last week's unseasonable conditions, but Pryor wouldn't have minded a little Tampa humidity.  His entire football career has been contained in the state of Florida, after all.

Pryor played high school ball in his hometown of Okeechobee, Florida, then went upstate to play for the Florida State Seminoles in college.  The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Pryor as an undrafted free agent this past spring, and the Buccaneers plucked him off the Jaguars' practice squad on Tuesday.

"I'm just staying in Florida, so I'm used to this heat and everything," said Pryor after his first Buccaneer practice.  "I'm excited because I get to stay close, and I'm actually now even closer to him.  I'm about two-and-a-half hours away."

Of course, the versatile back would have happily accepted a chance to play in any of the NFL's 32 outposts, so the Buccaneers' out-of-the-blue call on Tuesday was music to his ears, regardless of what it meant for his travel plans.

"It's a dream come true," said Pryor.  "Every young guy just wants to come and play, so I'm glad Tampa Bay gave me an opportunity to do that.  Hopefully I can use it and help this team out."

The Buccaneers made a point of listing Rainey as both a fullback and a running back when they added him to the roster on Tuesday.  At Florida State, he spent much of his time as a lead blocker but also got occasional carries and was particularly good at putting the ball in the end zone.  Pryor isn't quite sure what sort of role will develop for him in Tampa, but given how the Bucs' backfield has been such a star-maker this year, he shouldn't be surprised if he gets an opportunity to contribute before the season is up.

"I'm trying to learn both positions," said Pryor.  "Today I did a little bit of fullback stuff.  I'm just trying to learn both so whatever they want me to do I can do it.  Mostly I played fullback [at Florida State].  We did a lot of split backs, so sometimes they could switch the ball to me and I get to run the ball.  I did a lot of things, running out of the backfield and catching the ball.  I was mainly a fullback but I got to touch the ball sometimes."
Game Rewind: Tampa Bay Buccaneers