August 29, 2013 in Sports

Johnson, Stafford get some help

Associated Press
 

Stafford
(Full-size photo)

Calvin Johnson had an otherworldly season for the Detroit Lions. One of his fellow receivers thinks he can be even better with a little help.

Nate Burleson, who missed much of last season with a broken leg, said finding reliable second and third options for quarterback Matthew Stafford might mean an even better season for his All-Pro teammate.

“He needs guys that can take the pressure off him,” Burleson said. “That could help his season and definitely help his health.”

Johnson had 122 catches for an NFL record 1,964 yards and five touchdowns last year but showed the effects of the workload late in the season. The team will look to 11-year veteran Burleson and Ryan Broyles, who missed six games last season, to help out Johnson.

Burleson, who’s starting his third season in Detroit, had 27 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns before being injured in a Week 7 loss at Chicago.

The erratic behavior of Titus Young helped the Lions decide to bring Burleson back at the end of the year.

Broyles, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft, stepped in as a starter after Burleson was lost and finished with 22 catches for 300 yards and two scores. A knee injury kept him out of the final four games.

Jets sign former Packers backup QB Harrell

The New York Jets signed former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Graham Harrell, giving them some added depth at the position.

Harrell passed his physical and is set to join the Jets for the preseason finale against Philadelphia tonight. The former Texas Tech star spent the last three seasons as a backup to Aaron Rodgers, and was 2 of 4 for 20 yards in four regular-season appearances.

With Mark Sanchez sidelined with an injured shoulder, Greg McElroy out with a knee injury and rookie Geno Smith unlikely to play, Matt Simms was the only quarterback available on the roster. Simms, competing with McElroy for the No. 3 job, is expected to start against the Eagles.

Around the league

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff said there is no issue with his hamstring, meaning a setback that will cost him at least the first six games is related to a groin that was surgically repaired eight months ago. Coach Jason Garrett said during training camp that a hamstring injury and last year’s groin problem were the reasons Ratliff was sidelined. He was put on the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday. … The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed wide receiver Jordan Norwood and waived defensive end Aaron Morgan. … The Jacksonville Jaguars signed veteran cornerback Will Blackmon and waived rookie cornerback Marcus Burley.

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