No cornerback has been more successful against Calvin Johnson than Chicago’s Charles Tillman, who held Megatron to 34 yards and 72 yards in two games last season, a season in which Johnson set a new NFL record for receiving yardage and averaged 133 yards a game when he wasn’t being covered by Tillman.
But Tillman isn’t gloating. Instead, Tillman told Detroit reporters that Johnson is “the best competitor in the game right now at the receiver position.”
“He’s so damn big. He’s like the LeBron James of wide receivers,” Tillman said. “He’s like that Madden character that you can create in the game. He’s tall, he’s fast, he can catch. He’s got quickness, he’s got the speed, he’s got the agility, the leaping ability, the extra boost. He’s 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10.”
So why did Johnson average 80 yards a game less against the Bears than he did against the rest of the league last season? Tillman said it was because the Bears’ defensive line wasn’t giving Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford enough time to find Johnson downfield.
“A lot of the plays that I’m able to make on Calvin have been because of my defensive line,” Tillman said. “If you take them out of the mix, I can’t do anything.”
That’s a modest answer, but Tillman deserves plenty of credit himself. Johnson is great, but Tillman has been great when covering Johnson.