Former Bulldog Stafford, ex-Jacket Johnson playing well together in Detroit

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Former college rivals and teammates in Detroit, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson helped the Lions overcome a 20-point deficit last week.  ERIC MILLER/REUTERS
ERIC MILLER/REUTERS
Former college rivals and teammates in Detroit, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson helped the Lions overcome a 20-point deficit last week.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford are clicking so well that a lot of things simply go unsaid.

“We do have ways to communicate out there, real subtle things,” Johnson says. “I’m not going to tell you how.”

And even if he did, teams would still have trouble against Detroit’s dynamic duo.

The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson, a former Georgia Tech star, has emerged as one of the top receivers in the NFL, a highlight reel of a player with the speed of a sprinter, the hops of a high-jumper and soft hands.

“They call him ‘Megatron’ for a reason,” Minnesota cornerback Chris Cook said.

And now Johnson has Stafford, a former Georgia star, consistently throwing him the ball, too. The Lions quarterback, injured so much in the past, is back with a strong arm and a ton of confidence.

Johnson is the first player to catch two touchdown passes in each of the first three games of a season and Stafford has thrown for three other scores as the Lions (3-0) head into Sunday’s game at Dallas (2-1).

“Those two guys are really a couple marquee players,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “They were drafted high for a reason because they’re awfully good, they’re awfully talented.

“They’re getting better and better. You can really see those guys develop as players and maybe more importantly as a combination.”

They’re not doing it alone, however.

Opponents also have to account for crafty veteran Nate Burleson, quick rookie Titus Young, shifty running back Jahvid Best and one of the best tandems of tight ends in the league, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler.

“It’s not necessarily all Calvin,” Dallas safety Gerald Sensabaugh said. “(Stafford) is doing a good job of distributing the ball and finding open guys.”


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