Calvin Johnson: Hard to grip ball
Updated: November 8, 2012, 3:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services
Calvin Johnson said Thursday he suffered nerve damage from hits sustained in the Detroit Lions' loss to the Minnesota Vikings in September, which has made it hard for him to grip the ball, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The newspaper highlighted two particular hits Johnson sustained in the Week 4 game, by safety Harrison Smith to Johnson's upper chest that prevented a touchdown and a helmet-to-helmet hit by linebacker Chad Greenway. Greenway was fined $21,000 for that hit, which Johnson said Thursday gave him a concussion.
The Lions had a bye following that game but the newspaper reported that Johnson had at least three drops in the three games after the bye.
Johnson pointed to the nerve damage as one of the reasons for those drops. When asked if the hits made him reluctant to go over the middle to catch passes, Johnson told the newspaper that the nerve damage "was kind of messing up my grip a little bit."
He described the pain from the injury as "just stuff shooting down your arm" to the newspaper.
He didn't practice last week and hasn't practiced this week either because of a sore knee. He overcame the pain in his knee to catch seven passes for 129 yards in last week's victory at Jacksonville.
Johnson said he's feeling better, however, as the Lions prepare to face the Vikings on Sunday for the second time this season.
"It's definitely coming back, feeling a lot better, but it's the middle of the season," he told the newspaper.
The 27-year-old Johnson has just one touchdown reception this season, a year after finishing second in the NFL with 16 touchdown catches. He's ranked third in the NFL this season with his 767 receiving yards, however. He led the NFL last season with 1,681 yards.