Haden Welcomes Challenge

Haden Welcomes Challenge

If Detroit Lions' WR Calvin Johnson plays Sunday, Browns defensive back Joe Haden is prepared for the challenge.

BEREA, Ohio--There is no question one of the best players in the NFL is Lions' wide receiver Calvin Johnson or 'Megatron' as he is called.

One would only need to look at last week's 22-9 loss to the Packers to see how much of an impact that Johnson's absence makes on the Lion's offense. Johnson sat out the game with a knee injury. The Lions top receiver had just three receptions for 30 yards against Green Bay and Reggie Bush had just 44 yards rushing.

Despite missing the game, Johnson still is among the league leaders with 21 receptions for 312 yards and four touchdowns.

Lions' coach Jim Schwartz wasn't willing to give any insight into whether Johnson will play or not when asked during a conference call Wednesday.

"I'm certainly not going to tell you guys that," Schwartz said. "We'll see. A lot of times last year, he didn't practice and played in the game. We obviously want him on the field. He's one of the best players in the National Football League."

Johnson didn't practice on Wednesday, but did take the field on a limited basis on Thursday increasing his chance to play against the Browns.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton is expecting to see Johnson.

"Are they a different team without Calvin on the field? it would be absurd for me to say, 'No'," Horton said. "Do I assume he's going to play? If there is any way that he can play, I assume (he will)."

Joe Haden is expecting that Johnson will be ready to go at 1 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium.

"I'm definitely preparing for him (to play)," he said. "I am practicing and preparing just like he is going to be out there, definitely."

Haden said he looks forward to the challenge of playing the best receivers in the game, the likes of Johnson and A.J. Green.

"The team and the Browns fans and I might not want him out there, but I always want to go against the best," he said. "I like the challenge and to go up against someone like (Johnson), if you can hold your own against the best receivers in the league (you can hold your own against anyone)."

Haden is yet to make it to a Pro Bowl, but he knows if he can shut down perennial Pro Bowl players like Johnson and Green, it's inevitable.

"Going against great players makes me want to step up and play my best."

Horton is confident that Haden can handle the best player on each team the Browns face. He held Green to seven receptions for 51 yards and no touchdowns. Earlier in the season, he held Mike Wallace to just one catch.

"Joe is one of the players we challenged to be better," Horton said. "He is a player that has tremendous potential. We joke with him to be like (Cardinals' cornerback) Patrick Peterson. He wants to be great and we challenge him to be great. He has the ability and the mindset to take on the team's best receiver."

Horton thinks Haden can get better.

"He's still a work in progress," he said. "I don't want him to think that he has arrived by any stretch of the imagination."

With Johnson out, the Packers shut down Bush and the rest of the Lion offense a week ago.

"(The Lions) offense is completely different without Calvin," Haden said. "Missing a player like Calvin, who is a comfort blanket for (Matthew) Stafford is different. But with him, you always have to know where he is because they move him around and try to get him the ball any way possible."

Haden has said he thinks Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL today.

"His quarterback (Matthew Stafford) has so much confidence in him and he's just able to go up and get the ball," Haden said. "His range is tremendous.

"No matter if he's covered or not the ball is coming to him," Haden said. "He has so many opportunities to get the ball and he makes plays."

Haden was asked what makes the 6-5, 236 pound receiver so good.

"Look at the dude," Haden said. "He's huge, big strong and fast. There's really nothing else you have to say why he's so good."

Haden knows that he has to pay attention at all times with Johnson on the field.

"You have to lock in on him because the ball is coming his way."

EXTRA POINTS

Sheard Close: DL Billy Winn (quad) did not practice again on Thursday. However, LB Jabaal Sheard (knee), LB Quentin Groves (ankle), RB Chris Ogbonnaya (concussion) practiced for the second day in a row. All three were listed as limited. DL Desmond Bryant (illness), OL Joe Thomas (elbow) and DL John Hughes (knee) all practiced fully.

Sheard was moving around well during the portion open to the media and all points are that he will play.

Defensive coordinator is excited to have Sheard back.

"Fantastic (news)," he said. "Jabaal was playing very well for us. He's a very smart player. What I've been saying all season is depth is one of our strengths. He's one of our better players and we want our better players on the field."

Groves said he was ready to get back into action after injuring his ankle against the Ravens.

"I'm moving around a lot better," Groves said. "I'll be ready if my number is called."

Hoyer on Crutches: QB Brian Hoyer was seen coming off the practice field Thursday morning with QB Brandon Weeden and QB Jason Campbell. He was on crutches and was unavailable for comment. Hoyer was lost for the season with a season-ending ACL injury to his right knee in the first quarter of last week's win over the Bills. It is unclear when he is scheduled to have surgery. Chudzinski said that Hoyer was to see one more doctor before having surgery.

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