Most people probably figure that the tallest wide receiver in the NFL belongs to the Detroit Lions, but they likely can't accurately peg who it is. Surprisingly, it's not "Megatron" Calvin Johnson, but 6'6" Kris Durham, his littler-known yet bigger offensive running mate. Just call him "Makeshift."
Makeshift, of course, refers to a lesser-known Decepticon spy, who according to internet descriptors of all things Transformers, processes the rare ability to take any form and is a shifter. Despite his sometimes villainous roles, Makeshift also is said to be very selfless, helping others without concern for himself, with greater than average strength and endurance.
That sounds suspiciously like Durham, a player Jim Schwartz admires greatly for his interchangeable role on the team and ability to fit in no matter what he's asked to do. "Durham has great size, good hands and is a reliable catcher of the ball," Schwartz said Monday. Sunday against Chicago, not only did Durham haul in three passes for 58 yards including a clutch third down reception in the red zone in which he nearly scored, he recovered two onside kicks late, taking a massive hit on his final recovery.
"He wasn't a forgotten man as far as our team," Schwartz added, regarding Durham's game and somewhat overlooked impact. "He stepped up in some crucial times in that game and made some crucial catches. I think his biggest play was getting the onside kick."
Sunday's clutch performance was built on Durham's success a week before against Washington, in which he was targeted three times, hauling in one pass and confidently striding down the field for a 33 yard gain. As Durham gets more targets while making more catches, expect his numbers to improve further given his famous collegiate comfort with former Georgia teammate Matthew Stafford. Sunday, Stafford seemed to look for Durham over the middle when he needed sure yardage and catches, which was a step in the right direction toward assuring Makeshift a bigger statistical impact. Meanwhile, he'll continue to impact the game in other ways, including on special teams.
Where and when might Durham's quiet in-game transformation continue? How about this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Late last season, Detroit's last game at Lambeau was the site of Durham's first coming out party, as the tall wide receiver grabbed four passes for 54 yards, nearly helping in an upset. This season, with Reggie Bush assisting the offense on the ground and Johnson healthy, Durham could see more open field as teams overlook him in favor of covering Detroit's other big name targets. As a result, Durham's play could begin to look suspiciously like Megatron's.
Without Nate Burleson, who famously dubbed himself "Recepticon" in the past, the Lions need to find another running mate for Megatron. Very quietly, "Makeshift" Durham is transforming himself into a nice mix of the supernatural wide receiving running mates he competes along side every day.
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