In the big picture, Sunday’s game between the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium isn’t among the sexiest matchups of Week 2.
However, there are several intriguing personnel matchups that will be watched closely — none more so than Detroit’s All-World receiver Calvin Johnson against Arizona’s Pro Bowl corner Patrick Peterson.
Peterson knows he’ll have his work cut out for him against the man they call “Megatron” Sunday.
“He’s a different type-receiver, he can do it all,” Peterson said following practice Thursday. “He’s a physical-type guy, he’s big and fast, he can run after the catch.
“He has nice, strong hands to where when he catches the ball, it’s hard to separate the ball from him.”
Sunday won’t be the first matchup between Johnson and Peterson. Last November, Johnson caught 10 passes for 121 yards, but the Cardinals rolled to a 38-10 win.
“Last year, I believe they threw him the ball 27 times,” Peterson joked (it was only 17). “And that’s three games of work, right there. But I rate my performance pretty well — I kept him in front of me, and that was my whole goal — eliminating big plays.
“That’s when he seems to get ‘on’, once you give up that 40-yard-plus play, and I believe I did a great job of keeping him in front of me and tackling him at the point of attack and not letting him get those extra yards after the catch.”
Johnson set a single-season NFL record with 1,964 yards last year, but was held to just 37 yards on four catches in Detroit’s season-opening win over Minnesota last week.
Peterson says there’s one thing about Johnson’s game that really impresses him.
“The way he moves, the way he moves in and out of traffic,” Peterson said. “The way he gets off of press coverage. He’s big, but he moves like a little guy, he has little guy speed, he comes in and out of his breaks, which is really impressive for a tall guy.
“He’s always doing the unthinkable each and every Sunday, so my job is to slow that down and not have that happen to me and this Arizona Cardinals defense on Sunday.”
While it may seem like a Herculean effort to accomplish that job, Peterson isn’t lacking any confidence heading into Sunday’s contest.
“At the end of the day, I want to be the best cornerback in the league,” he said. “And I feel like if you are the best, you’ve got to guard the best.”