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Chargers Run a Megatron Simulation

Preparing for Calvin Johnson takes some imagination

By Michael Gehlken
|  Friday, Dec 23, 2011  |  Updated 8:50 AM PDT
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Weighing the Turner, Smith Decision

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Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions looks on in pre-game warmups before the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 18, 2011 in Oakland, California.

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No machines. No video graphics.

To run a simulation of Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the Chargers need only kickoff returner Richard Goodman, your basic Honolulu blue Johnson jersey, and then, last but not least, one heck of an imagination.

Goodman has given the Chargers secondary their best possible preview of Megatron this week before Saturday's game at Ford Field, a tall challenge for the 6-foot, 190-pound Goodman.

In that No. 81 jersey, he looks just like Johnson in practice.

“If you can blow him up a little bit,” coach Norv Turner said with a smile. “Make him bigger. He can run fast, though.”

Goodman says that white-stitched Johnson jersey fits him just fine — but the equipment team had to find him a smaller size.

Johnson, by comparison, is 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds.

“That's hard to translate,” said Goodman, a former practice squad player who still relishes the preparation role. “To be able to run like a guy who's under 6-foot and be quick like that, he's blessed … I think I was able to give (cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason) a great look as far as him stretching out the field, getting up on them and stepping on toes and everything.”

Secondaries need popcorn during film review of Johnson, who has 81 catches for 1335 yards and 14 touchdowns, all career highs with two games to spare.

They've tried double-teaming him in the red zone. Touchdown.

In Week 4, the Dallas Cowboys tried triple-teaming him. Touchdown.

Good thing Goodman, whose acting reel this season has included possession receivers Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Marshall, does a fine impersonation on jump balls. The topic made the Chargers' Jammer sound more like Jimmy O'Hare reflecting back on Rudy Ruettiger's days at Notre Dame.

“Oh yeah, he's a very competitive guy," Jammer said with a laugh. “He goes up and gets it. He's trying to embarrass us out there, though. But he definitely goes about his business the right way … As far as quickness goes, I'm ready for anybody after going against Rich, and you get a good perspective from a speed standpoint, too.”

In a media conference call this week, Johnson reported seeing an unusually low amount of double coverage Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. The results speak for themselves: nine catches, 214 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning 6-yard snag, on 14 targets.

Johnson was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week and led all non-quarterbacks in Pro Bowl fan voting.

Likening him to "Terrell Owens back in the day," Chargers coordinator Greg Manusky said the defense will try to get as many players around Johnson to contest his looks.

For now, with a Lions jersey and some imagination, Goodman fits just fine.

"You're not going to find a guy who (perfectly) simulates," Cason said. "I mean, no one will. You just really have to be on top of your game this week."

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