Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson certainly doesn't need any extra motivation. But a day after Ravens' rookie Matt Elam called him "old," the 28-year-old couldn't help but have a little bit of fun at the rookie safety's expense.
"It's all good," Johnson said in a conference call with Ravens' reporters. "I'll show him what that old-man strength is all about, though."
In a conference call with Ravens' reporters, Johnson seemed more amused than annoyed by Elam's comments, which included the safety saying that the Ravens needed to get physical with the Pro Bowl receiver because "he's pretty old, so I don't know how physical he'll be," according to the Associated Press.
Johnson is six years older than Elam, who is 22. And at 6-foot-5, 236 pounds, Johnson is also seven inches taller and 26 pounds heavier than the Ravens' rookie.
"I don't need motivation but anything positive, anything negative that comes at me throughout the week, you just take it, put it in that box over there for motivation and use it on [game day]," said Johnson who has 75 catches for 1,351 yards and 12 touchdowns and is considered by many to be the best receiver in the NFL. "… He doesn't have to see me on the field. He can talk all he wants. He plays back. I don't see him every play unless I run past him. I'm not worried about it."
Asked to evaluate what he's seen on film from Elam, Johnson said, "I think that [if quarterback Matthew Stafford] does a good job with his eyes, he could get those guys out of position where we could make some plays. Just safeties – nothing extraordinary. Those are definitely guys we can make plays on."
Elam also was effusive in his praise of Johnson, calling him a "big, fast, athletic, unstoppable freak." However, that was obviously not the part of the interview that got the most attention, much to the chagrin of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
"I think everybody is old to Matt Elam, obviously. Matt is pretty young and hopefully he learns from his opportunity to speak to the media," Harbaugh said. "I don't appreciate it. It doesn't help us. You get a guy like Calvin Johnson all fired up, that's probably not the idea. But it's Monday Night Football. They've deemed it a playoff game for them and they're going to be pretty juiced up. … I don't think they needed that to get fired up but we didn't need to give it to them either."
Asked about Elam's comments on a conference call with Lions reporters, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said, "You just kind of look at him and say, 'Dude, what are you thinking? It's Calvin Johnson, man.' It's kind of just funny that he put himself in a situation like that."
Flacco joked that he challenged Elam more down the field in Thursday's practice to get him "ready" for what he should expect Monday.
Before the Lions' game against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant remarked that he could do everything that Johnson could do. Johnson then went out and had 329 yards receiving against the Cowboys.
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith will probably spend much of the afternoon matched up against Johnson, but he said that he wasn't worried that the Lion will be extra motivated.
"Honestly, it doesn't bother me," Smith said. "Would you think that Calvin Johnson is not going to come to a Monday night game on national television and not play his best game anywaybecause a rookie said something? I doubt it. It's poster boy stuff. … To Matt Elam, he's 22 years old; [He] thinks I'm old, and I'm 25."