4 Cornerbacks Standing in the Way of Calvin Johnson Breaking Jerry Rice's Record

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 19, 2012

4 Cornerbacks Standing in the Way of Calvin Johnson Breaking Jerry Rice's Record

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    After dropping six games in a row, there's not much left for the 4-10 Detroit Lions to play for, but at least one player on the team still has a lofty goal in his sights.

    In last week's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver Calvin Johnson tied an NFL record with his seventh-straight 100-yard game and became the first player in NFL history to record consecutive 1,600- yard seasons.

    If the 27-year-old can average 91 receiving yards over his last two games (against the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears), then Johnson will break Jerry Rice's single-season record of 1,848 receiving yards, set in 1995.

    Here are the four biggest obstacles to "Megatron" transforming the NFL record books.

Asante Samuel, Atlanta Falcons

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    Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel is a four-time Pro Bowl performer who is smothering in coverage, tackles like a seven-year-old girl and has 48 interceptions over a 10-year NFL career.

    Samuel has allowed just over 53 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed and has only given up one touchdown pass this season, but Samuel is also battling a bum shoulder and may not be 100 percent for this game.

    For what it's worth, the last time Johnson and Samuel squared off the matchup went to Samuel, as Johnson was limited to four catches for 50 yards in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010.

Dunta Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

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    With starter Brent Grimes out for much of the season, the other cornerback spot for the Atlanta Falcons has been manned by ninth-year pro Dunta Robinson, who has logged an impressive 70 tackles for the Falcons this year.

    At least it's impressive until you consider that high tackle numbers for a cornerback usually indicate that that cornerback is being targeted a ton.

    Sure enough, according to Pro Football Focus, Robinson has been the 12th-most targeted cornerback in the NFL this season, and he's allowed nearly 65 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed.

    In other words, Megatron will eat him alive.

Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears

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    Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is widely regarded as one of the premier players at his position in the National Football League, and for good reason.

    Tillman is a master of the Cover-2 defense that the Bears employ, he's as stout as they come in run support and there may have been no better cornerback in NFL history at forcing fumbles.

    However, the 10-year veteran isn't a world beater in coverage, as evidenced by his three touchdown passes allowed and 64.8 completion percentage against.

    Johnson and Tillman have seen plenty of one another over the years in the NFC North, and when the two met earlier this season in Chicago Johnson struggled, reeling in only three passes for 34 yards.

    With that said, Johnson enjoyed quite a bit more success against Tillman and the Bears in 2011, catching 12 passes for 211 yards and a score in two meetings.

Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears

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    This assumes that Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings returns to the lineup by Week 17, but the seven-year pro has returned to practice and looks to be on track to play in the game after dislocating his shoulder on December 2nd.

    Before the injury, Jennings was playing as well as any cornerback in the National Football League this season, racking up eight interceptions and ranking in the top 20 in completion percentage against.

    It will be very interesting to see how Jennings' shoulder holds up, because if he's healthy, the 28-year-old's combination of physicality and coverage skills may give him the best odds of slowing down Calvin Johnson.

    Because that's all you can really do. Stopping him is basically impossible.