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Calvin Johnson says Stafford earned 'Top 100' rank

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford came in at No. 41 on the "Top 100: Players of 2012," which, depending on your opinion, might have been way too low for someone who completed 41 touchdown passes and threw for over 5,000 yards last season.

In NFL Network's countdown show, which aired Wednesday night, it was questioned whether Stafford's image had been hurt by the fact that he had a super-human wide receiver in Calvin Johnson catching just about everything thrown his way.

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Johnson was asked that same question on Thursday.

"There's some times, yeah, where it's just throwing the ball up," said Johnson, according to the Lions' official site. "But at the same time, there's times I'm running a route and it's not an easy pass to throw and he puts the ball in a good place, where I can catch the ball and run.

"Therefore, I can have a lot of yards after the catch."

Like contemporaries Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, Johnson is the type of talent who is going to put up numbers pretty much regardless of who's throwing him the ball. But Johnson had a career year in 2011, finishing with 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. That type of production doesn't happen without the help of an elite passer.

"As far as when I'm running a route, he puts the ball in the right place at the right time," said Johnson. "It's an easy ball to catch -- it's a tight spiral."

"But more importantly than that, he's that leader on the field. He takes control of the huddle. It's crazy -- after the injury, it was just natural to him to be that leader -- he just came right out of the box doing it."

As Gregg Rosenthal pointed out Wednesday, Stafford managed to both stay healthy and realize his potential in one outstanding season last year. Johnson makes his job easier, but let's remember that Stafford still threw for more than 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns without his star wideout's production factored in.

Translation: Stafford's a stud.

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