Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson got off to a mostly pedestrian start in 2012, the season in which he set the NFL record for receiving yards with 1,964.

He topped 100 yards in two of his first four games, and he had 423 yards total.

We’ll be tracking wide receivers ahead of Johnson’s pace after four, eight and 12 games, along with what each would need to do to reach the coveted single-season mark.

With each passing season — pun intended — it seems as though Johnson’s record is within reach. In 2021, Cooper Kupp came the closest, with 1,947 yards on 145 receptions for the Los Angeles Rams.

Of note, Johnson and Kupp shared the same quarterback: current Rams signal-caller Matthew Stafford. Stafford started all 16 games with Johnson in 2012 for the Lions and all 17 with Kupp nine years later.

After four games, four wide receivers are ahead of Johnson’s pace.

Receiving yards: 543 | Needed to break record: 1,422

Jefferson is in his fourth season after being drafted in the first round by Minnesota. He posted his best yardage season in 2022, going for 1,809 yards on 128 receptions. Jefferson has improved by about 200 yards in each of his three seasons.

The LSU product has three games this season in which he has had at least 149 receiving yards.

Receiving yards: 501 | Needed to break record: 1,464

Well, hello rookie. The fifth-round pick has proven that he’s the real deal, with three 100-yard games. He had his best game Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, posting 163 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions.

Can he keep it up? He does have Stafford as his quarterback.

Receiving yards: 470 | Needed to break record: 1,495

Hill is in his eighth NFL season and second with the Dolphins. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016, the year before they took Patrick Mahomes in the first round.

Hill’s best season with Mahomes in terms of yardage came in 2018, when he posted 1,479 yards on 87 receptions. But the best season of his career for yardage came last year in Miami, when he racked up 1,710 yards on 119 receptions, also a career high.

Receiving yards: 428 | Needed to break record: 1,537

Collins is in his third NFL season after being drafted by the Texans in the third round in 2021 out of Michigan. But he has never had a quarterback like he does now in rookie C.J. Stroud. Collins played in 24 games over his first two seasons and never posted a 100-yard game. He already has two this season, including a career-high 168 in Sunday’s rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Others to watch

A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles: 414 receiving yards. Has 301 yards over the past two games, but Nick Sirianni likes to run a lot, too.

Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers: 402 receiving yards. Allen has been very good for a long time, but he’s 31 and has never exceeded 1,400 yards in a season.

What separated the man known as Megatron in 2012 was his finishing kick. He strung together eight consecutive 100-yard games that included a pair of 200-yard efforts beginning with his eighth game.

The big advantage for today’s pursuers is a 17th regular-season game. The NFL won’t be offering Johnson an asterisk.


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