GREEN BAY — It was a given going into the season that Detroit’s passing game would be different without WR Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, who retired after 2015.
But the Lions have compensated for the absence of a future Hall of Famer about as well as any team could.
QB Matthew Stafford has completed at least 50 passes to five different pass-catchers in 2016, led by WR Golden Tate, whose production has been complemented by WRs Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin, TE Eric Ebron and RB Theo Riddick.
“Their passing game has definitely evolved,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said before Thursday’s practice. “They’ve gotten more people involved. They had a commitment to Calvin and rightly so. I find they’re tougher to prepare for when you play wide open and you throw the ball to the guy that gets open. I think it’s definitely helped their passing game and helped them schematically with how they challenge the defense.”
Regarding Thursday’s practice, which will be in full pads, McCarthy said RB Christine Michael would be back after being excused on Wednesday for a personal matter. LB Julius Peppers would probably rest for a second straight day, while RB James Starks (concussion) has been in meetings and is “making progress.”
As the Packers prepare to play in a dome stadium for the first time in two months, McCarthy said Detroit’s Ford Field holds plenty of noise even though it doesn’t have a reputation for being as loud as other indoor venues.
“It’s definitely a challenge when you go over there,” McCarthy said. “I think it would be a great place to watch a game. It’s a very unique setting. I’ve always felt it was a very difficult place to play.”
Packers.com will have more following practice and locker room interviews.