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Lions WR Johnson returns to practice, status still unclear

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The Canadian Press
10/10/2013 5:25:51 PM
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Calvin Johnson was back on the practice field for the Detroit Lions. That doesn't mean his status for this weekend is even close to determined.

"I don't have any updates on him," coach Jim Schwartz said. "You guys saw what you saw."

Johnson was inactive in a loss at Green Bay last weekend because of an injured right knee. He didn't practice Wednesday, but he was on the field Thursday during the portion of practice open to reporters.

Johnson didn't participate in every drill, but he did do some footwork and pass-catching exercises with other receivers.

"It feels good to be out there," Johnson said. "I'm feeling better, definitely. So we can just leave it at that."

Detroit lost 22-9 to the Packers without Johnson. The star receiver has 21 catches for 312 yards and four touchdowns on the season. The Lions play at Cleveland on Sunday.

"It certainly helps to have him out there," offensive co-ordinator Scott Linehan said. "That's the understatement of the day."

The Lions (3-2) had won two in a row before arriving in Green Bay, but Johnson was a surprising scratch. He'd given cryptic answers about his health a few days before the game, but Johnson had been banged up before and missed only one game since the start of the 2010 season.

He had to sit out another Sunday, and Detroit's offence did not look good at all. The Lions are also missing receiver Nate Burleson, who is still recovering after hurting his arm in a car accident.

Burleson was on the practice field Thursday as well, wearing a backward cap. While his teammates caught footballs, he tried to catch tennis balls with his good arm during drills.

Burleson isn't expected back for a while, but Johnson's presence on the field was at least a small step in the right direction.

"It's just going to depend on how he feels when we get to game day," Schwartz said. "He had a bunch of times last year where he didn't practice at all, and went out and played on Sunday, and last week he practiced on Friday and wasn't able to go out there on Sunday."

Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler had four catches apiece last weekend, but Scheffler is now recovering from a concussion and didn't practice at all Thursday. Suddenly Detroit's dynamic passing game looks decimated, putting more pressure on running back Reggie Bush.

The Lions hope for a lift from Kevin Ogletree, who signed with Detroit last week and caught a couple passes against Green Bay.

"He has really good hands. It's good to see him catch the ball with his hands all the time," Johnson said. "It builds confidence in the coaches in him."

The Lions don't like to give out much information on injuries because they worry it could provide a competitive advantage to the opponent, but this week, the real question is about Detroit's preparation. If Johnson can't play, can the Lions come close to replacing his production?

Schwartz says the uncertainty surrounding Johnson isn't a distraction for the rest of the team.

"There's a lot of fantasy football owners that want to know whether he's going to play or not," Schwartz said. "But the guys in the locker room, we're prepared."

NOTES: T Jason Fox (knee), LB Ashlee Palmer (ankle) and RB Theo Riddick (concussion) did not practice. S Louis Delmas (knee), CB Chris Houston (hamstring) and S Glover Quin (ankle) were limited.

Calvin Johnson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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