Let’s be honest, the Vikings aren’t going to shut down Detroit Lions Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson. He is one of those special players that is just too talented to completely take out of a game. There is a reason he has the nickname “Megatron”. As ESPN SportsCenter’s former host Dan Patrick used to say: “You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.”
Let’s take a quick look at the guys that could attempt to keep Megatron in check:
Chris Cook: In the past, Chris Cook was the man the Vikings went to when they needed to put a body on Calvin Johnson. At 6’2″, Cook is one of the bigger Cornerbacks on the team and has a decent history of being able to play against Megatron. Sadly, Cook is still recovering from a hip injury that he sustained in preseason and might not yet be 100%. Still, Cook might be the team’s best option.
Xavier Rhodes: Rhodes was one of the Vikings three 1st round draft picks this year and is a very physical player. He would have the ability to knock Johnson off his routes and frustrate him. His inexperience is a huge question mark with him. He has the size and physical ability to do the job, but asking a rookie to take on the best Wide Receiver in the NFL in his first game is a bit much.
Josh Robinson: One of the team’s biggest holes was made this year when veteran Antoine Winfield was released. The Vikings are hoping that Robinson will be able to help fill the hole that was left. While Robinson doesn’t have the size that Cook or Rhodes have, he has a lot of speed that would allow him to keep up with Megatron. The Lions move their Receivers all over the place, so we may see this matchup. Robinson’s coverage was spotty during his preseason contests and might not be up to the challenge to take on Calvin Johnson just yet.
Harrison Smith: While Harrison Smith might not ever be directly responsible for covering Calvin Johnson, you can bet that he will be paying close attention to where he is on the field. Last year, Harrison Smith got some really big hits on Megatron that seemed to shake him up for the duration of the game. His physical style of football will definitely help any of the Cornerbacks that are given this tough task.
No matter how the Vikings attempt to contain Megatron, the key to this game against the Lions is to limit the passing yards allowed. Last year, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson both set NFL records when it comes to passing and the Vikings defense has a history of struggling against teams with great aerial attacks. Hopefully, the Vikings have a solid plan in place.