Blogs > Lions Lowdown

One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.


Injury update

Defensive end Jason Hunter (ankle), who did not practice again all week, is the only Lion who is listed on the injury report as out for Sunday.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson will be game-time decisions and are listed as questionable.

Also questionable are defensive tackle Sammie Hill (ankle), fullback Jerome Felton (ankle), linebacker Zach Follett (illness) and defensive end Turk McBride (head). All had limited practice on Friday.

Stafford, Johnson game-time decisions

ALLEN PARK —  Coach Jim Schwartz said this afternoon that quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson will be game-time decisions Sunday for the home game against the winless St. Louis Rams. Both are coming off knee injuries.

“Both of them made a lot of progress over the last couple weeks. The bye came at a good time for us. I don’t think any of them are 100 percent yet, but they’re getting closer,’’ Schwartz said.

Today was the fourth straight day of practice for Stafford, who has missed two games, and the second straight  for Johnson who missed the last game.

“We’re just trying to not overwork it. We don’t want to mess it up more than it is,’’ Johnson said.

Stafford decline to talk to the media.

Stafford, Johnson practice

ALLEN PARK — Quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson practiced this morning. Both have been sidelined with knee injuries, but it appears they could be back playing on Sunday against the winless St. Louis Rams.

It was the fourth straight day of practice for Stafford and the second for Johnson. Stafford was injured on Oct. 4 at Chicago and has missed two games. Johnson was injured early in the game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 11 and then missed the next game.


Lions get Calvin back

While backup quarterback Daunte Culpepper has been back at practice since last week, and starter Matthew Stafford has been able to practice three straight days now, the Lions got more good news for their offense Thursday, when Calvin Johnson (knee) practiced for the first time since injuring his knee against the Steelers.

Johnson, DT Sammie Hill, FB Jerome Felton and DE Turk McBride — all full- or part-time starters — were limited in practice, while LB Zack Follett (illness), DE Jason Hunter (ankle) and DT Grady Jackson (knee) were held out of workouts.

The week before the bye, Lions entered the game at Green Bay minus four starters — including Stafford and Johnson — and finished it with third-string quarterback Drew Stanton on the field, and a goose-egg on the scoreboard for the first time since 2001.

While the practice status of Johnson and Stafford guarantees nothing for Sunday's home game against the Rams, it at least gives the Lions hope. Without that passing combination, the Lions' offense isn't much better than that of the Rams (0-7), who have scored just five offensive touchdowns in seven weeks.

"You start with a guy like Calvin — he obviously changes the game. He changes not only our offense, but he changes the way defenses play, so I think that's obviously a big factor," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of the impact of their possible return.

Beyond that, the two need to reestablish the rapport that could make them one of the top duos in what's become a pass-happy NFC North Division.

"I think the strides that Matt had made early in the season, he needs to be able to pick that up again," Schwartz said. "The one thing that's going to happen is they'll play when they're ready. Not to get out there before they're ready. That will be the evaluation. ... The evaluation (of their status) is going to be, 'Are they physically able to do their jobs?' And if they are, then they'll be out there. If they're not, then they won't."

Neither player spoke to the media after Thursday's workout.

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Lions blacked out for Rams

ALLEN PARK — For the second Sunday in a row, local television programmers won’t have to worry about a Lions game.

This time, however, it’s not because they’re on a bye week.

For the third time in four home game weeks so far this season, the Lions have not achieved sellout status by the NFL’s stipulated deadline of 72 hours before kickoff. In Week 2, the Lions got a 24-hour extension, enabling them to sell out the home opener, but were blacked out for the game against the Redskins on Sept. 27.

The Lions will again be blacked out locally for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams, as team spokesmen said Thursday that the organization had not been able to sell the “more than 10,000 tickets” that remained as of Wednesday.

Steelers fans bought up the unsold tickets for the Oct. 11 game at Ford Field, the only time the Lions have met the 1 p.m. Thursday deadline this year.

If the Lions are, in fact, able to keep the visiting Rams (0-7) winless, their fans still will not have seen a Detroit win on television since Dec. 23, 2007. There is no betting line on the game, pinning the Lions as favorites, but the Rams have won just one more game than the Lions over the past season-plus.

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Hill could return

ALLEN PARK — Rookie defensive tackle Sammie Hill, who wears No. 79,  practiced for the second straight day after missing the last three games with a high ankle sprain. He could be back in the starting lineup on Sunday when the Lions play the winless St. Louis Rams at Ford Field.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham can’t wait.

"That’s like a long, lost girlfriend. Everybody got beat up and I kept looking at 79,’’ Cunningham said. “Every day I wanted him to practice and I knew he couldn’t.’’

Cunningham said Hill looked good in practice today and Tuesday.

For more on Hill and the Lions defense see Thursday’s Oakland Press. — PAULA PASCHE


QB practices for 2nd straight day

ALLEN PARK — Quarterback Matthew Stafford was back at practice this morning which is huge news for the Lions. Stafford practiced Tuesday and wouldn’t have practiced today if his injured right knee had a bad reaction to Tuesday’s workout. The next big test will be to see if he can practice on Thursday. It’s still too early to say he’ll start on Sunday against the winless St. Louis Rams, but it’s definitely a good sign that he could practice two days in a row.

Stafford injured his knee on Oct. 4 during the loss at Chicago. He’s missed two games since then. He had practiced on Oct. 14, but it was just a one-day deal because there was some swelling afterward.


Big test Wednesday

ALLEN PARK — Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s big test will be to see how his injured right knee reacts on Wednesday following Tuesday’s practice. If there’s no swelling or irritation and he can continue to practice, obviously it will be a good sign. Although he said it’s way too early to predict whether he’ll be able to play on Sunday against the winless St. Louis Rams.

Stafford said he felt good during Tuesday’s practice, his first since Oct. 14. He was limited, taking about half the reps.

“This is the most I’ve done on it other than that Wednesday (Oct. 14) and it felt better than it did that Wednesday. I don’t know if I could say how much better or how close I was to 100 percent,’’ Stafford said. “This is the first time I’ve really tested it. I’ve just been walking around.’’

The rookie quarterback injured his right knee in the loss at Chicago on Oct. 4 and missed the two games since then.

Coming off a bye week, the Lions (1-5) had an unusual Tuesday practice. They are preparing to play the St. Louis Rams (0-7) on Sunday at Ford Field.

Stafford practices

ALLEN PARK — Quarterback Matthew Stafford practiced this afternoon for the first time since Oct. 14. Stafford injured his right knee in the loss at Chicago on Oct. 4 and missed the two games since then. The media is allowed to watch the first 30 minutes of practice and Stafford did not appear limited during that time. Daunte Culpepper (hamstring) practiced again today. He also practiced Friday.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) did not practice, but was catching balls along the sideline.

Coming off a bye week, the Lions (1-5) had an unusual Tuesday practice. They are preparing to play the winless St. Louis Rams (0-7) on Sunday at Ford Field.


Desperation Sunday

The St. Louis Rams look to Sunday to break their 17-game losing streak when they face the Lions at Ford Field.

Coming off the bye, the Lions (1-5) are looking for their second win.

Which team is more desperate?

It’s hard to tell. The Lions know this is their big chance to win another game. They will tell you that they want to win this just like they want to win every Sunday, but they know the Rams (0-7) stink. The Lions have to jump on this opportunity.

The Rams are coming off a humiliating 42-6 loss to the Colts on Sunday. St. Louis has managed just six touchdowns all season and one of them was courtesy of their defense. The Rams offense is ranked 26th in the NFL with Detroit’s at 25th (11 touchdowns, two from the defense).

The St. Louis defense is ranked 30th (allowing 385.4 yards per game) while Detroit is 26th (allowing 370.8 yards per game).

No line has been established yet. And, coincidentally, it is still up in the air whether Matthew Stafford (knee) will return to action or whether Daunte Culpepper will get his third straight start. The Lions had Monday off and will start practicing on Tuesday for Sunday’s huge game.


Productive week

ALLEN PARK — After Friday’s practice, coach Jim Schwartz said it had been a productive bye week for his squad. They had a walk-through on Wednesday followed by practices Thursday and Friday.

“We had a couple good days of practice. We had a good walk-through on Wednesday. We got a lot done form a coaching standpoint from looking at (film) cutups and evaluating sort of where we’ve gone well, where we haven’t, what we need to do, a couple more adjustments and things that fit us. It’s been a productive week,’’ Schwartz said.

The Lions (1-5) have a three-day weekend, then will resume practice on Tuesday when they start preparation to play the winless St. Louis Rams on Nov. 1 at Ford Field.

Two QBs practice

ALLEN PARK — Quarterback Daunte Culpepper (hamstring) practiced  this morning, but Matthew Stafford (knee) did not. Stafford said on Thursday he was not sure when he’d be able to get back to practice. He said he was taking it day to day. He'll receive treatment over the bye weekend. Culpepper did not practice on Thursday, leaving Drew Stanton as the lone healthy quarterback for that practice session.

Linebacker Larry Foote did not practice for the second straight day. He said he injured his wrist in the Pittsburgh game and was taking it easy because it’s the bye week.

Others not practicing included: WR Calvin Johnson (knee), LB DeAndre Levy, DE Turk McBride (knee), DT Sammie Hill (ankle), DE Jason Hunter (ankle) and FB Jerome Felton (shoulder).

Today’s practice was the final one before the bye-week break. The Lions will resume practice on Tuesday when they start preparation to play the winless St. Louis Rams on Nov. 1 at Ford Field.


A return to East Lansing

ALLEN PARK — Julian Peterson, who started all 12 games at outside linebacker at Michigan State during his senior year (1999) has never been back to East Lansing to see the Spartans play. Until this year he had played on the West Coast (San Francisco and Seattle) so he wasn’t able to get back on the bye weekend.

That will change on Saturday when he will serve as an honorary captain when Michigan State takes on undefeated Iowa.

He’s quite excited about returning and catching up with coach Mark Dantonio who recruited Peterson to Michigan State.

“I’ll talk to them before in the locker room and give them a little inspiration. I’ll do what I can to try and help them,’’ Peterson said.

Stafford doesn't practice

ALLEN PARK — Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (knee) and Daunte Culpepper (hamstring) were on the practice field this morning, but did not participate in drills. Stafford did throw a few passes on the sidelines. Drew Stanton was the lone healthy quarterback.

Also missing practice were: LB Larry Foote (wrist), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), FB Jerome Felton, DE Turk McBride (knee), DT Sammie Hill (ankle), and DE Dewayne White (hamstring).

The Lions signed LB Vinny Ciurciu (Boston College), who had spent the last two training camps with the Patriots and Vikings. While signed as a linebacker, Ciurciu was participating in drills with the running backs and full backs.

Also, DE Copeland Bryan, who was injured on Sunday, was placed on Injured Reserve today.


Roster tweaked again

The roster tweaking continues for the Lions at least for the practice squad. Today they released defensive tackle Jervonte Jackson from the practice squad and added defensive tackle Joe Cohen (Florida) and cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels (Georgia Tech). Tackle Lydon Murtha, who had been on the Lions practice squad, was signed to the Miami Dolphins active roster.  — PAULA PASCHE

Perfect timing

This bye week could not have come at a better time for the banged-up Lions. They are 1-5 heading into the final 10 games of the season. Coach Jim Schwartz is optimistic that most of the injured will return to play in time for the Nov. 1 home game against the winless St. Louis Rams. He won’t be specific about injuries, but it’s hardly a secret that the Lions will be in much better shape if quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson are back from knee injuries. The offense just isn’t the same without them.

Schwartz is keeping the team busy this week. They were scheduled for a walk-through today and will practice Thursday and Friday. They’re looking to get back to basics and correct mistakes. They won’t put any focus on the Rams until next week.


Sitting still

ALLEN PARK — It’s official. The Lions made no moves today before the 4 p.m. NFL trade deadline. This wasn’t a big surprise. There did not appear to be much action across the league.

Coach Jim Schwartz said on Monday they would look at every way possible to improve the team, but he predicted that there might be more talk than action today.

The Lions have a bye this Sunday. They have a walk-through scheduled for Wednesday, along with practices on Thursday and Friday. Their next game is against the winless St. Louis Rams on Nov. 1 at Ford Field.

Lions honor Ganfield

ALLEN PARK — Coach Greg Ganfield of Pontiac High has been named the Lions’ high school coach of the week.

Ganfield has led his Pontiac Phoenix to a 7-1 record and has clinched the Oakland Activities Association Blue division title. Ganfield is in his 19th season as a head varsity football coach. He spent last season at Notre Dame prep, five seasons at South Mecklenburg, N.C., and a dozen seasons at Romeo.

He’s the eighth recipient of the award this season.

No trades yet

ALLEN PARK — With the NFL trade deadline approaching at 4 p.m., chances appear slim that the Lions will make a move. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Lions are thrilled with their roster, but you have to give up something to get something.

The Lions have been actively changing the roster weekly since the final cuts on Sept. 7, so it’s not like they’ve been sitting still. If they get most of their injured players back after the bye week, they will be in better shape.



Health still an issue

ALLEN PARK — Coach Jim Schwartz said today that’s he’s optimistic the team will be at full-strength healthwise coming out of this bye week. “Everybody has a good chance (of getting healthy),’’ Schwartz said.

Guys with significant injuries have been placed on Injured Reserve. Schwartz labeled the other injuries as short-term which he defined as one to three weeks.

This includes quarterback Matthew Stafford, who missed the last two games with a knee injury. After the loss at Green Bay, Schwartz said he was hoping to get Stafford back on the practice field this week.

“What I should have said is we’ll get him back on the practice field as soon as we can. I don’t know if that will be this week, I don’t know if it will be next week or the week after. But as soon as he’s ready and he’s able to go out there we’ll get him out on the practice field,’’ Schwartz said.

Stafford was spotted in one of the hallways off the locker room, but he did not address the media. Neither did quarterback Daunte Culpepper who pulled a hamstring on Sunday.


Back to basics

ALLEN PARK — This bye week comes at a good time for the banged-up Lions. In fact, coach Jim Schwartz said today that the Lions will not practice on Wednesday because he’s not sure he would have enough healthy bodies to run a full practice. They won’t waste the day though. They’ll have a walk-through and meetings. They will practice Thursday and Friday before getting a three-day weekend breather.

The Lions play the St. Louis Rams at home on Nov. 1. While the coaches will study the Rams this week, the team will not be fed any Rams information. Instead they will be getting back to basics and try to correct the mistakes that have gotten them off to a 1-5 start.



Run game stalled

GREEN BAY, Wis. —  Among the many woes in Sunday’s 26-0 loss to the Packers was that the Lions could not get the run game going. They finished with just 71 rushing yards, averaging 4.3 yards per play on 18 carries.

Running back Kevin Smith had 15 carries for 61 yards with a season-high long run of 20 yards.

“We expect to run the ball form the get-go, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing no matter what week it is. That’s the philosophy of this team,’’ left tackle Jeff Backus said. “We’re going to run the ball and stop the run. Being a little more efficient running the ball in the second half, doesn’t outweigh the fact we didn’t get it going in the first half.’’

Coach Jim Schwartz said it was difficult to pinpoint one area that disappointed him because all-around it was a poorly executed game.

Stafford report denied

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A report today by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that quarterback Matthew Stafford’s knee injury is more serious than first believed and that he could be done for the season is not true according to Tom Lewand, the Lions’ president. Lewand said it’s nothing but rumor.

Mortensen also reported that Stafford will consult with Dr. James Andrews, a specialist in Birmingham, Ala.  Lewand said the Lions have previously consulted with Andrews regarding Stafford.

The rookie quarterback injured his right knee two weeks ago in Chicago. He will sit out today for the second straight game. He practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, but then did not practice on Thursday and Friday.

Stafford, Johnson out

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — As expected quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson are inactive for today’s game against the Packers. Both have knee injuries. Johnson didn’t practice all week while Stafford had limited practice on Wednesday.

Also inactive are: Safety Ko Simpson (hamstring), guard Manny Ramirez, tackle Jon Jansen, defensive tackle Sammie Hill (ankle) and a pair of defensive ends — Jason Hunter (ankle) and Dewayne White (hamstring).

Live blog of Lions at Packers



Stafford, Johnson questionable

Injuries continue to be an issue for the Lions.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who didn’t practice Thursday and Friday, is listed in Friday’s injury report as questionable for Sunday’s game at Green Bay. Stafford, who injured his knee in the game at Chicago, also sat out Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh. Daunte Culpepper will get his second straight start.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who injured his knee early in the Steelers’ game, also did not practice on Friday. He’s also listed as questionable.

 Stafford and Johnson were two of seven injured Lions who didn’t practice on Friday. The others are: DT Sammie Hill (ankle), DE Jason Hunter, DT Grady Jackson (knee), S Ko Simpson and DE Dewayne White. Hill, Hunter and Simpson are doubtful for Sunday.

 LB Jordon Dizon (foot), FB Jerome Felton (shoulder), TE Casey FitzSimmons (thigh), running back Maurice Morris and LB Ernie Sims (shoulder) practiced on Friday in a limited capacity.  Felton, FitzSimmons, Morris and White are questionable for Sunday. Dizon, Jackson and Sims are probable.

 That’s a heck of a long list. The Lions’ have a bye week next week which should help some of these guys get healthy.

Sticking with the run

If you’re looking for positives from the 1-4 Lions, here’s one. They are committed to running the ball no matter what. Even last week against the Steelers, who possess the second best rush defense in the NFL, the Lions stayed with it and managed to accumulate 110 rushing yards. The Steelers’ previous opponent, the San Diego Chargers, ran for just 16 yards.

“What I did like is we stuck with it through that game. I like the fact that we didn’t become one-dimensional and it’s easy to do against Pittsburgh —  most teams do,’’ Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.

What he is looking for is a little more explosion.  Kevin Smith or any of the running backs haven’t been able to bust through for a long run.

“Eventually guys are going to start popping some long runs, even if it’s not the home run. Healthy chunks enable you to get those yard numbers up,’’ Linehan said.


Lions still fighting injury bug

No news is ... well, bad news.

After returning to practice Wednesday for just the second time since his Week 4 knee injury, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (knee) missed Thursday’s workout. Coach Jim Schwartz would not comment on whether or not the rookie's absence signaled a setback in his recovery, but merely pointed to the team’s daily injury report, which showed only moderate improvement in players available from the day prior.

Expect Stafford's status to be a game-time decision again this Sunday, when the Lions play Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Daunte Culpepper got the nod last week against the Steelers.

Also missing from practice were WR Calvin Johnson (thigh), DT Sammie Hill (ankle), DE Jason Hunter (ankle), DT Grady Jackson (knee), RB Maurice Morris (hip), S Ko Simpson (hamstring) and DE Dewayne White (hamstring). Fullback Jerome Felton and TE Casey FitzSimmons (thigh) returned to practice in a limited basis, joining LBs Jordon Dizon and Ernie Sims, while OT Gosder Cherilus and TE Brandon Pettigrew fully participated in practice for the second straight day.

While Schwartz wouldn't speak in specifics, he did address injuries in general at his post-practice press conference Thursday.

"Your objective every week is to win that game. That's our objective this Sunday. That's our objective every single Sunday. I think the thing you need to balance with any player ... when you talk about an injury, you balance their ability to play, their ability to be effective on the field, their potential to make an injury worse, you balance all of those things," he said. "If a player is out there, and he can get through, but he can't be effective in his role, then it doesn't make any sense to play him. It pertains to every single position. "And if there's a potential that an injury is going to get worse, then you'd be in a position where you wouldn't play him. This is a tough game for tough people, and you're going to have to play through some injuries over the course of the season."

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Stafford practices, Johnson doesn't

ALLEN PARK — Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford practiced with the team this morning, while wide receiver Calvin Johnson stood on the sidelines.

Stafford, who injured his knee in the Chicago loss 10 days ago, missed Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.  It is still uncertain whether Stafford will start on Sunday in Green Bay.

 Johnson injured his knee early in the loss to the Steelers.

Others not practicing today were defensive tackle Sammie Hill (ankle), defensive end Jason Hunter (ankle), tight end Casey FitzSimmons (thigh), running back Maurice Morris, and fullback Jerome Felton.

The tweaking continues

ALLEN PARK — The release of defensive tackle Chuck Darby, who the Lions had re-signed two weeks ago, signifies that rookie Sammie Hill (ankle) must be getting close to being able to play again.

In the never-ending search for secondary help the Lions have also signed cornerback Demarcus Faggins. They also added wide receiver John Standeford who the Lions had cut after training camp.

Cornerback Deandre Wright was released from the practice squad, while defensive end Robert Henderson (Southern Mississippi) was added.


Injuries force Lions to make moves

According to published reports, the Lions made a handful of moves Tuesday, reflecting the banged-up status of the squad.

According to’s Mike Florio, the Lions cut defensive tackle Chuck Darby, and signed cornerback DeMarcus Faggins.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus posted a tweet on his Twitter account earlier in the afternoon, noting that the Lions had re-acquired wide receiver John Standeford, who took the roster spot left open when the team placed wide receiver Adam Jennings on injured reserve on Monday.

Standeford nine games with the Lions last year, starting four, and grabbing 15 passes. The Lions finished Sunday’s game with just three healthy receivers available.

Darby also spent last season with the Lions — both he and Standeford were let go at the final roster cutdown at the end of training camp — but was brought back when rookie defensive tackle Sammie Hill was limited by an ankle injury, and was inactive for Sunday’s loss to the Steelers.

A 2002 draft pick who spent his entire career with the Houston Texans, Faggins gives the Lions a body to bolster the secondary, which was hit by a “significant” injury to the shoulder of nickel back Eric King.

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It's been a long time ...

Imagine coach Jim Schwartz wasn’t too happy to hear about another Lions’ streak that he’s had nothing to do with. The Lions have not won in Green Bay since Dec. 15, 1991. That’s so long ago that long-time kicker Jason Hanson has never won at Lambeau Field.

On Sunday, Schwartz and his 1-4 Lions face their next challenge. Winning on the road is tough in the NFL. It’s especially tough for the Lions whose growing pains are clearly preventing them from winning more games. Even with some good teams in the 1990s the Lions couldn’t win at Green Bay. It doesn’t look good for this week.


CB placed on injured reserve

ALLEN PARK — Detroit’s inconsistent secondary took a hit when cornerback Eric King was placed on the injured reserve list today. He suffered a significant shoulder injury in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh. With his departure the Lions have one opening on their 53-man roster. ... Also defensive tackle Mathias Askew was placed on the injured reserve list for the practice squad. ... Wide receiver Logan Payne, who joined the Lions last week, was released from the practice squad. ... They signed wide receiver Kole Heckendorf (North Dakota State) and defensive tackle Jervonte Jackson (Florida Atlantic) to the practice squad. — PAULA PASCHE

QB situation up in air

ALLEN PARK — Coach Jim Schwartz at his press conference today would not speculate on the quarterback situation for Sunday’s game at Green Bay. Rookie Matthew Stafford missed his first game on Sunday because of a knee injury sustained in the loss at Chicago. Schwartz said they will wait until Wednesday to determine the health of Stafford’s knee and whether he can practice. If he doesn’t practice this week that does not eliminate the possibility that he could play at Lambeau Field.

Schwartz said they are playing to win the game against the Packers. He won’t take into consideration the fact that the next week will be a bye week which would give Stafford (or any injured played) an extra week of rest.

Schwartz said he would know more on wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s knee injury on Wednesday, but he said he would not label it “significant.”

However cornerback Eric King does have a “significant” shoulder injury.


Stafford won't start

Finally an answer to the will-he-or-won't-he question that's plagued the Lions all week: Matthew Stafford will not start today's game against the Steelers.

Of the game-time decisions, this one is the least surprising. Stafford hurt his knee on a sack in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's loss to the Bears, and did not practice until Friday, waiting for the swelling to go down. While Monday's tests showed there was no structural damage to the knee, the Lions remained mum on the issue until putting out the list of Sunday's starters and lineup changes, which had the No. 1 overall draft pick listed as the third (emergency) quarterback.

In other lineup news, veteran Jon Jansen will start at right tackle in place of Gosder Cherilus, helping protect Stafford's replacement, Daunte Culpepper. Waiver-wire acquisition Turk McBride, who'd been deemed "not ready" to contribute so far this season, will start in place of Dewayne White at defensive end. Landon Cohen will start at defensive tackle for nicked-up rookie Sammie Hill. Hill, White and Ko Simpson (who started at safety last week against the Bears) are all on the inactive list.

For the Steelers, Tyrone Carter gets the start for Troy Polamalu, who'd been expected to return from his knee injury. Polamalu is inactive, along with starting running back Willie Parker and former Lion Shaun McDonald.

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Game 5 live blog: Lions vs. Steelers

Bears DE fined for Stafford tackle

Chicago Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye has been fined by the NFL  for unnecessary roughness on a play that injured Matthew Stafford in last Sunday’s game, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The ruling was that when he sacked Stafford in the fourth quarter he made a horse collar tackle.  A penalty was not called on the play.

Stafford injured his right knee on the play and had to leave the game. He is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Steelers, but it would be a surprise if he played.  

The Sun-Times also reported other fines from the game: Bears wide receiver Rashied Davis $5,000 for an illegal crackback block; Detroit cornerback Anthony Henry $7,500 for a horse collar tackle and Detroit running back Kevin Smith $5,000 for a facemask infraction.


Stafford officially questionable

Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford (knee) is officially listed on Friday’s injury report as questionable for Sunday’s home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Strong safety Ko Simpson, who started on Sunday at Chicago, is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. He injured his hamstring against the Bears and hasn’t practiced all week.

Defensive tackle Sammie Hill (ankle) and defensive end Dewayne White (hamstring) did not practice Friday and are doubtful for Sunday. Both of them also missed last Sunday’s game at Chicago.

Defensive tackle Grady Jackson (knee) also did not practice and is probable. Defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring) practiced full-go and is listed as questionable.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (thigh), tight end Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) and linebacker Ernie Sims (shoulder) were limited in practice Friday and are probable for Sunday along with running back Kevin Smith (shoulder).

Tackle Gosder Cherilus (shoulder) and safety Kalvin Pearson (quad) were also limited in practice and are questionable.

For the Steelers, running back Willie Parker (toe) is out for Sunday while safety Troy Polamalu (knee) is doubtful. Parker didn’t practice on Friday, while Polamalu was limited.

Starter to be announced

ALLEN PARK — Coach Jim Schwartz said today that he won’t announce the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh until Sunday.

Rookie Matthew Stafford, who has started the first four games, injured his knee in the fourth quarter of the loss at Chicago. He was limited in practice today. It was his first participation in practice all week.

“There’s a lot of time between now and Sunday. I think (Stafford’s) arrow is trending up,’’ Schwartz said after practice.

Daunte Culpepper has been taking snaps with the starters in practice this week.  When he finished out the game at Chicago it was his first game action of the season. Culpepper said he prepares with the same intensity every week.

“Daunte is a guy who has a lot of experience in the league and he’s a guy who prepares like a starter. He’s always been a starter in the NFL,’’ Schwartz said.


Stafford at practice

ALLEN PARK —  Matthew Stafford practiced this morning for the first time this week, but he was limited. The rookie quarterback injured his knee in Sunday’s loss at Chicago.

Coach Jim Schwartz has not revealed the seriousness of the knee injury, although on Monday he said Stafford was day to day. Stafford does not appear to have a limp. When Stafford talked to reporters on Thursday he was not specific about the injury. The injury report which will list Stafford as doubtful, questionable or out will be released late this afternoon.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper took the snaps with the starters on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Safety Ko Simpson (hamstring) did not practice today. He started on Sunday in Chicago. 


QB quandary still up in the air

Back to the guessing game.

The Lions are still not letting on whether or not rookie Matthew Stafford — who won the starting quarterback job through a preseason competition that was kept as under wraps as possible by the Lions’ coaching staff — will continue in that starting role this weekend.

Stafford injured his knee in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 48-24 loss to the Bears, and had tests done on Monday — which revealed no structural damage, and no need for surgery — but hasn’t practiced yet this week, as the Lions’ medical personnel try to get the swelling to subside.

If Stafford can’t go, veteran Daunte Culpepper will get the nod.

Either way, no one’s saying.

Head coach Jim Schwartz referred inquiring reporters to Thursday’s injury report, while Culpepper declined to talk at all.

“Daunte’s a pro. He has a lot of experience in the league. He looks about the same way he practiced in OTAs and training camp,” Schwartz said of the possibility of having to start Culpepper in Sunday’s game against the Steelers.

Stafford was in street clothes for practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and did not participate, but no one was ruling him out for Sunday.

“We’re not eliminating him,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “Rookie or 10-year vet, you’d like him to have all the reps. That’s part of the game. You have to deal with that, and figure out how you would manage it, if that’s the case, what you would do, game plan-wise, if he didn’t get the reps.”

For Stafford’s part, it would be a difficult spot to put a rookie in, facing a top-10 defense like the Steelers, one that limited San Diego to just 16 yards rushing in last week’s win, especially without having any live practice repetitions.

“The last two days — yesterday and today — I’ve just been trying to get as many mental reps as I can, staying extra, watching a bunch of film. These guys are a good defense. ... We’ll see. You try to do a bunch of work off the field, and get as ready as you can,” he said Thursday. “Football’s a physical game, no matter what level you’re playing it at. There’s always that chance (of injury), and you’ve just got to deal with it, as best you can.”

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Lions avoid blackout

The Lions will be on television for Sunday's game against the Steelers, after making Thursday's 1 p.m. deadline for a sellout.

While there are still tickets remaining, according to team spokesman Bill Keenist, the Lions sold the 1,500 they had remaining as of Wednesday, satisfying the NFL's blackout regulations.

The game will be shown locally on WWJ-TV (Ch. 62), called by Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts.

The Lions needed an extension from the NFL to sell out their home opener against Minnesota on Sept. 20, but the Washington game a week later was blacked out. An announced crowd of 40,896 — the Lions' smallest home crowd in over 20 years, and nearly 25,000 short of capacity — was on hand at Ford Field for the Lions to break their 19-game losing streak.

Pittsburgh, the defending NFL champion, and the winner of Super Bowl XL at Ford Field, was an easier sell this week.

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Stafford sits out

ALLEN PARK — Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford did not practice today. Coach Jim Schwartz would not be specific about Stafford’s knee injury or whether he would practice at all this week or if he play on Sunday. Stafford was on the practice field in his jersey and Tigers baseball cap. He was not on crutches and had a sleeve around his right knee.

Stafford did not talk to the media and neither did Daunte Culpepper who will start if Stafford cannot go. Stafford injured his right knee in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss at Chicago. On Monday after testing had been done, Schwartz said that Stafford is day to day.

Stafford, the top overall pick from Georgia, started the first four games and was 79 of 139 for 894 yards with three passing touchdowns and six interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 65.5. He also rushed for a touchdown.

In a conference call this afternoon Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley said he’s preparing to play against Stafford.  “I just believe he is (playing),’’ Woodley said when asked to explain.

Roster tweaked

ALLEN PARK —  A few roster moves were made today. Wide receiver Adam Jennings, who injured his ankle in Sunday’s loss to Chicago, was placed on injured reserve. The Lions signed safety Marvin Wright off waivers from Dallas. They also signed wide receiver Logan Payne to the practice squad after he was cut from Seattle’s practice squad a week ago. Linebacker Darnell Bing was waived and linebacker Zach Follett was promoted from the practice squad.

1,500 tickets left

ALLEN PARK — The Lions just announced there are 1,500 tickets remaining for Sunday's game at Ford Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tickets must be sold out by 1 p.m. on Thursday for the game to be aired on local television. The Lions sold out their home opener, but the most recent home game, a win over the Washington Redskins, was blacked out. — PAULA PASCHE

Backus honored

Nine-year tackle Jeff Backus has been selected as the Lions’ recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award which recognizes NFL men of courage. He will be honored at the Detroit Lions Courage House dinner on Tuesday at Ford Field.

Backus, who was the Lions’ first-round draft pick in 2001 out of Michigan, has started at left tackle for Detroit from his first game as a rookie and never missed a start since then. His string of 132 straight starts is the most by any offensive linemen in Lions’ history and ranks tops of any active NFL offensive lineman.

At the dinner ESPN’s Mike Tirico will be the guest speaker and the Ricky Sandoval Award will be presented to former Lion Mike Utley. Tickets are still available for the Courage House dinner at (313) 216-4171.


Williams gets the nod

ALLEN PARK — Poor special teams play was a huge issue in the Lions’ 48-24 loss at Chicago on Sunday. Coach Jim Schwartz made a move today to change things up. Rookie Derrick Williams is the new kickoff returner replacing rookie Aaron Brown.

“It’s time for  him to deliver. He was drafted as one of those things being his role — being a kick returner, punt returner, wide receiver,’’ Schwartz said at his weekly press conference. “He was behind in training camp (due to injury). Our inefficiency at kick returns is glaring and it needs to be addressed and he’s going to have to do the job.’’

The third-round pick out of Penn State ranked second in the Big Ten and 28th nationally last year returning kicks for the Nittany Lions. He had 20 returns for 515 yards (25.8 average) and two scores. He also returned 18 punts for 169 yards (9.39 average) and a touchdown.

It’s not a move that will solve all of the Lions’ special teams woes, but it’s a start.

Stafford day to day

ALLEN PARK — Coach Jim Schwartz said that it’s a possibility that Matthew Stafford will play on Sunday. Stafford injured his knee in the fourth quarter on Sunday in the 48-24 loss at Chicago.

Schwartz said all testing has been done and declared that Stafford is day to day. The coach would not offer more specifics, but said they’ll know more on Wednesday how the knee will react to treatment. — PAULA PASCHE


The Oakland Press' live blog from Lions at Bears

Join Oakland Press staff writer Matthew B. Mowery for a live blog from Sunday's Lions/Bears game at Solider Field.


No surprises on Injury report

Coach Jim Schwartz has said it will be a game-time decision on Sunday whether running back Kevin Smith (shoulder) will play. Smith was limited in practice on Friday, but is listed as questionable which is a step up from doubtful. He had 16 carries for 101 yards in the win over the Redskins before injuring his shoulder.

It looks like the Lions will be without DT Sammie Hill (ankle), S Kalvin Pearson (quad) and DE Dewayne White (hamstring) at Chicago. All three did not practice on Friday and all are listed as doubtful for the game.

DT Grady Jackson (knee) didn’t practice either, but the veteran quite often sits out practice. He’s listed as questionable, along with DE Cliff Avril (hamstring), CB Eric King (shoulder) and LB Ernie Sims (shoulder).

It doesn't get easier

Life does not get any easier for the Lions (1-2) before the bye week (Oct. 25). Sunday they play the Bears (2-1) at Chicago. This could be their best chance to win prior to the bye. Both of the Bears’ wins have come on late rallies. They’re beatable, but any road game in the NFL is tough.

The Lions want to build on their win over the Redskins on Sunday. Should they beat the Bears they’ll be right in the thick of the action in the NFC North. If the Bears lose they will be 2-2. Green Bay (2-1) plays at Minnesota (3-0) in a huge Monday night tilt with Brett Favre facing the Packers.

Next up the Lions will face the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) at Ford Field on Oct. 11. The Steelers are off to a rough start, but don’t forget that they are the reigning Super Bowl champs.

 Then it’s off to Green Bay where the Lions haven’t won in years. The Lions will have a better shot of beating the Packers at Ford Field and they’ll get their chance on Thanksgiving Day.


Smith back at practice

ALLEN PARK — Running back Kevin Smith, who injured his shoulder in Sunday’s win over the Redskins, was back at practice today after sitting out Wednesday’s practice session.

Coach Jim Schwartz would not offer any details or predict whether Smith will be well enough to play on Sunday at Chicago. If he can’t go veteran Maurice Morris will likely get the start.

Before he was injured, Smith carried 16 times for 101 yards. On Monday Smith said he had every intention of playing this Sunday, but the trainers usually get the last word. — PAULA PASCHE

Delmas garners NFL honor

ALLEN PARK — Strong safety Louis Delmas has been a standout on the Lions’ secondary and others are noticing. Delmas has been named the NFL’s defense rookie of the month for September. It was the first time one of the Lions’ defensive rookies has been honored since the award started in 1996.

Delmas, a second-round pick out of Western Michigan, is tied for third on the team with 17 tackles. He also has a fumble return for a touchdown and three pass breakups.  — PAULA PASCHE