|National Football League|
Lions WR Calvin Johnson glad his deal is done
By LARRY LAGE
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Calvin Johnson has joined his Detroit Lions teammates for voluntary, care-free workouts this week.
The All-Pro receiver can run, lift weights and catch passes without stressing about contract negotiations or answering questions about entering the last year of his deal.
Johnson had one season left on the contract he got as the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NFL draft when he signed an eight-year deal worth up to $132 million last month.
"It's very fortunate to be in that situation where you don't' have to worry about it," Johnson said Tuesday. "The comfort level is way high. It's just good to be back, have that structured and be back here with your teammates."
Johnson is hoping to help the Lions take a step toward another successful season. Detroit is coming off its first 10-win year since 1995 and its first playoff appearance since the 1999 season.
Johnson had a lot to do with the breakout season for the long-suffering franchise, flourishing with quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy enough to play an entire season for the first time in his three-year career.
He caught 96 passes for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns, joining Jerry Rice and Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season. Stafford threw for 5,000-plus yards with 41 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions in a one-dimensional offense.
Johnson said Stafford is "looking good already" in workouts, but he hopes the team can strike more of a balance next season to rely less on his hands and Stafford's right arm.
"Last year, our running game wasn't really there," Johnson said. "We threw the ball all day."
Jahvid Best was limited to six games because of concussion problems and that hurt a running game that lost powerful rookie Mikel Leshoure with a torn left Achilles tendon before the season even began.
"I want those guys to get our running game stronger," Johnson said, "get some guys in the box and help us on the outside."
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Updated April 25, 2012