Lions’ Calvin Johnson returns after giving leg a rest

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson joined his teammates on the field Thursday for the first time this week ahead of Saturday night’s playoff game at New Orleans.

Johnson has said he was resting an Achilles tendon, declining to say which one was holding him out of workouts.

New Orleans safety Roman Harper said Johnson didn’t do a lot against the Saints in their 31-17 victory against Detroit last month. He’s right. Johnson was limited to six catches for 69 yards and without a touchdown.

In the other 15 games, Johnson had 90 receptions for 1,612 yards and 16 scores.

Roethlisberger still slowed by sprained left ankle

PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced Thursday but remains bothered by a sprained left ankle heading into Sunday’s wild card game at Denver.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Roethlisberger was “moving around OK, not as good as he was.” Roethlisberger originally sprained the ankle in a win over Cleveland on Dec. 8 then aggravated the injury in the second half of a win over the Browns last weekend.

Dalton back at practice after bout with flu

CINCINNATI — Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was back at practice after missing a day because of flu.

The rookie said his illness came on suddenly, and he went to a hospital for treatment to recover quickly. He was eating again Thursday and watched film of what he’d missed in practice the previous day, trying to catch up.

The Bengals will play the Texans in Houston on Saturday, trying to win a playoff game for the first time since the 1990 season.

Texans’ Phillips progressing from gall bladder surgery

HOUSTON — Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Thursday he’s still regaining his strength less than a month after undergoing gall bladder surgery.

Phillips, 64, went on medical leave Dec. 14. He returned last week and worked from the press box in Sunday’s 23-22 loss to Tennessee. He’ll work from there again when the Texans (10-6) play Cincinnati (9-7) in the playoffs.

Splendid season can only get better for Rice

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