DETROIT -- Adrian Peterson rushed for over 2,000 yards last season, and Calvin Johnson nearly reached that same mark as a receiver.
Even in the quarterback-driven NFL, their remarkable performances stood out.
"A.P.'s the man. What he does, all the carries he gets, he doesn't really take punishment, he dishes it out," Johnson said. "That's one way of keeping yourself in the game and staying healthy. That's a grown man back there. Much respect to him and what he does. I just hope he doesn't do it against us."
Johnson and Peterson will resume trying to top each other when the Detroit Lions host the Minnesota Vikings today. Johnson set a record last season with 1,964 yards receiving, but that didn't even get him serious mention in the Most Valuable Player discussion. Peterson won the award over Peyton Manning after rushing for 2,097 yards and leading Minnesota to the playoffs.
The Lions dropped their final eight games and finished 4-12. So while the Vikings try to prove last year wasn't a fluke, Detroit hopes to return to the playoffs after making it two seasons ago for the first time in a dozen years.
Here are a few things to watch in this early NFC North matchup:
QUARTERBACK CLASH: Although Peterson and Johnson are the main attractions, quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Christian Ponder will be under the microscope. Stafford has thrown for more than 10,000 yards over the last two seasons, but he's still facing questions around Detroit about whether he can win consistently against top competition.
Ponder, meanwhile, enters his second full season as Minnesota's starter. He missed the team's playoff game last season because of an elbow injury.
BIG DEBUTS: The Lions hope newly acquired running back Reggie Bush can boost a rushing game that added little balance to the offence last season.
"I think this team is right where it needs to be," Bush said. "I think the first thing you want to have on a team is guys that want to be here -- the guys that aren't just showing up for a check..."
-- The Associated Press