Stafford looks sharp in return

DETROIT — A healthy Matthew Stafford will mean a happy Matthew Stafford.It will also mean a happy Detroit Lions football team.

Stafford, the 2009 first-round draft pick, who has missed most of the games his first two seasons because of injury, was impressive in the two drives he engineered for the Lions Friday night at Ford Field in the preseason opener, a 34-3 win over Cincinnati. He threw touchdown passes on both drives.

“It felt good. I went to the right places, guys made plays for me—caught the ball. Thought we did a great job up front; (it was an) all around good day on offense,” he said.

Stafford left the game after the first two series. He was 6-of-7 for 71 yards.

“They were pretty methodical. Matt just has great command,” said Lions coach of Stafford and his offense. “I don’t think he got touched one time. (He) did a good job of getting the ball where he needed to go and guys did a good job of moving the chains and they had a lot of different things thrown at them early in that game; a lot of different coverages, a lot of different blitzes, things like that. He wasn’t just going against a vanilla game plan.”

“Obviously, I feel like we played at a pretty high level,” Stafford said. “We had a great tempo out there. I feel like we were wearing their defense down even on that first drive, just getting to the line of scrimmage, calling the play, executing, throwing and catching. Jahvid had a good game running the ball too, so I definitely want to be out there and want to be healthy. I think we’re pretty exciting to watch when all the pieces are together.

Schwartz was asked about the protection Stafford received from his lineman.

“I thought it was outstanding,” he replied. “A lot of that is him getting rid of the ball quick. We weren’t holding it a long time. When you have confidence that you can just take one step and throw it up to number 81 (Calvin Johnson) or get an outlet pass to number 44 (Jahvid Best), it makes it easier to protect.”

“Those guys up front—they’ve (Bengals) got a pretty tough defensive line and our guys up front did a pretty good job,” Stafford said. “We came into the game thinking about getting the ball out quick, trying to get the ball out of my hands and let it get into some other guys’ hands and let them make some plays. It ended up being great. (We) went down the field a couple times and made some plays.”

 

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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