Ex-Raven quickly makes Lions impact

Ravens Notebook

K. Johnson emerges as top receiver

Notebook

Pro Football

October 06, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

The Detroit Lions feature three receivers with first-round pedigree, but it's a Ravens castoff who finds himself tied for the team league in receptions.

Kevin Johnson's 10-catch total ties him with Roy Williams for the Detroit lead. Johnson was signed as a free agent during the offseason, and his role looked in jeopardy after the Lions drafted Mike Williams with the 10th overall pick in April, the third straight year they have taken a receiver with their first pick.

Yet it has been Johnson who has established himself as a reliable threat. Johnson led the Ravens with 35 catches last season but decided to opt out of his contract after his playing time decreased later in the year. It was speculated that Johnson would have been released had he not opted out.

"We really love having him," Lions coach Steve Mariucci said. "He made a couple of key catches in our drive last week against Tampa at the end. He is a versatile player, he knows all the positions. ... He is the veteran of the group with all of our young receivers."

Johnson might start Sunday against the Ravens after Charles Rogers was suspended by the NFL yesterday for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Even without Rogers, Ravens cornerback Deion Sanders says this is one of the best receiving corps his team will face this year. Roy Williams and Mike Williams are 6 feet 3 and 6-5 respectively, and Johnson provides quickness underneath.

"That's as big a group of receivers I think I've ever seen in this league," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Even with the talent, size and speed, Rogers and Mike Williams have combined for just nine receptions, and the offense overall has struggled, scoring two touchdowns in the last two games.

"Not my problem," Billick said. "I hope it continues, and I know they're doing everything ... they certainly have the talent to make that hit. That's what we have to consider."

Weaver on the mend

The timetable for Tony Weaver's return remains four weeks, but Weaver, in a walking boot yesterday, said he will try to speed up the recovery.

Weaver dislocated his toe against the Jets.

"You're always going to push it," Weaver said. "Everything is good structurally. So that's the goal."

Edwards gets the call

With Weaver out, Billick said Dwan Edwards will get many of the lost snaps along the defensive line.

Edwards, the team's 2004 second-round pick who was drafted higher than Weaver was in 2002, was inactive the first three games.

"The best-case scenario, Dwan steps up to this opportunity, which we're ready for him to do, and now when Tony comes back, we have additional depth and productivity there," Billick said. "We're approaching it that way."

Slow start for J. Lewis

Running back Jamal Lewis is off to the worst three-game start -- 138 rushing yards and one touchdown -- since his rookie season in 2000. It has left him answering questions about whether his contract situation is affecting his play.

Lewis is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the year.

"No, not really," Lewis said. "Of course it plays a role in your head because you don't know where you're going to be next year, or what's going to happen. But it really isn't a major factor."

Last season, Lewis ran for 305 yards and three touchdowns through the first three games.

Ricard questionable

Fullback Alan Ricard (calf) is the team's biggest injury concern.

Ricard, who missed part of yesterday's practice, is listed as questionable after reinjuring his calf against Jets on Sunday. Ricard was able to play through the injury.

"We'll have to see how the week goes," Billick said. "That's something we're going to have to deal with on a daily basis."

Tight end Todd Heap (illness/ankle) missed practice yesterday but is expected to play.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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