Taming Megatron: Profiling the Cornerbacks Who Will Cover Calvin Johnson in 2012
Johnson, a.k.a. Megatron, is certainly not going to sneak up on anybody like the Lions did in the NFL last season.
Instead, he'll face a season full of opposing cornerbacks eager to prove their mettle and make a name for themselves by silencing his thunder.
Here is a breakdown of the thirteen NFL corners slated to line up across from Calvin Johnson in 2012.
Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams
2011 stats: 58 tackles, one INT, 11 passes defended
The Rams acquired an underrated asset in Finnegan this offseason.
In addition to experience, Finnegan gives the Rams a bit of swagger with his feisty attitude.
He has proven he won't be intimidated, as evident in his 2010 riff with Andre Johnson.
He won't back down from Megatron, either.
Carlos Rogers, San Francisco 49ers
2011 stats: 52 tackles, six INTs, 19 passes defended
Rogers had a career year in 2011. During his first season in a 49ers uniform, he helped San Francisco become one of the elite defenses in the league.
He is the type of corner who won't shy away from being put on an island against Johnson.
Jason McCourty, Tennessee Titans
2011 stats: 85 tackles, two INTs, 13 passes defended
Jason McCourty turned in a solid 2011 campaign in his first full season as a starter.
Though he showed a lot of promise, he'll still rely on help from safeties Michael Griffin and Jordan Babineaux once Megatron hits that second gear down the field.
Chris Carr, Minnesota Vikings
2011 stats: 16 tackles, zero INTs, five passes defended
After a 2011 season marred by injury, Carr makes his way to Minnesota ready to lock down a starting role for the Vikings.
Undersized, he'll need to play big in order to not get run off the field by No. 81.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Philadelphia Eagles
2011 stats: 24 tackles, zero INTs, six passes defended
The departure of Asante Samuel gives Rodgers-Cromartie the opportunity to be a full-time starter as he was in Arizona during the first three seasons of his career.
If he can return to that form, he and Nnamdi Asomugha should be one of the most formidable cornerback duos in the NFL.
His size and speed make him a worthy adversary for Calvin Johnson, especially at the line of scrimmage.
Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears
2011 stats: 69 tackles, two INTs, 10 passes defended
Coming off the best season of his career, Jennings looks to have cemented his spot at left corner.
That said, at only 5'8, his height could become a liability against Johnson, especially in jump-ball situations. You may see the Bears play Charles Tillman on Johnson if things look like they are getting out of hand.
Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
2011 stats: 46 tackles, four INTs, 17 passes defended
Sherman turned in a stellar rookie campaign in 2011. Filled with potential and blessed with great size (6'3, 195 lbs.), he has a bright future in the NFL and will relish the opportunity to test himself against the best receiver on the planet.
Rashean Mathis, Jacksonville Jaguars
2011 stats: 32 tackles, one INT, four passes defended
Normally one of the most solid and consistent corners in the game, Mathis' 2011 season was shortened by injury.
Should he return to form in 2012, he'll be one of the few bright spots for the Jaguars and savvy enough to make Calvin Johnson work for anything he gets against him.
Tramon Williams, Green Bay Packers
2011 stats: 58 tackles, four INTs, 19 passes defended
One of the more physical corners in the game, Williams has become a star in the NFL.
With the relatively unknown Jarrett Bush slotted to play on the opposite side of the field, the two games against Detroit and Johnson might be where he gets the most balls thrown his way.
It will be interesting to see what he makes of the opportunity.
Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans
2011 stats: 39 tackles, one INT, seven passes defended
Ideally for the Texans, Jackson would be able to contain Johnson to a certain extent, allowing Jonathan Joseph to shutdown Nate Burleson or Titus Young.
Realistically, that's not easy to do. As a result, there is a good chance you'll see Houston move Joseph wherever Megatron may roam.
Cassius Vaughn, Indianapolis Colts
2011 stats: 15 tackles, one INT, four passes defended
Vaughn will get a chance to be a full-time starter for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, it will likely be a very long season in Indianapolis as the Colts look to be in rebuilding mode.
Adding to the long season will be the four quarters Vaughn will have to spend staring across the line of scrimmage at Calvin Johnson.
Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
2011 stats: 59 tackles, two INTs, 13 passes defended
Peterson had a solid rookie season, primarily as a return man. He'll look to up his game at the corner position in 2012.
Playing against the best is a great way to get better. He'll get a chance to do so in week 15 when Detroit comes to town.
Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons
2011 stats: 35 tackles, one INT, 14 passes defended
Grimes has developed into a solid contributor for Atlanta at the corner position.
Unfortunately, he'll have to be much more than that should the Lions still be playing their starters in week 17.
If he can't hold his own against Johnson, you may see Asante Samuel move across the field to square off with No. 81 in a game where both teams' playoff fates could be on the line.
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