Schwartz won't tip hand to Ravens
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz never wants to share injury information with his opponents.
When the injury is to his starting quarterback, Schwartz plays things even closer to the vest.
On Monday, one day after rookie Matthew Stafford left Detroit's game against Cincinnati with an aggravation of his separated left (non-throwing) shoulder, Schwartz wasn't giving any hints to his availability for Sunday's game in Baltimore.
"I've got a pretty good idea of his status, but I don't feel any need to tell Baltimore that information," Schwartz said. "They play Monday night this week, so they are already facing a short week and the difficulties that brings. I'd rather not help their game-planning process by letting them know which quarterback we expect to play."
Stafford originally injured the shoulder at the end of Detroit's dramatic 38-37 win over Cleveland two weeks ago, putting himself back into the game to throw the winning touchdown pass without any time on the clock. He then surprised most observers by starting in Detroit's Thanksgiving Day loss to Green Bay four days later, and was back under center during most of the 23-13 loss to the Bengals.
He aggravated the injury on a botched running play early in the second half, then had to leave the game after taking a big hit late in the fourth quarter.
Stafford said after the game that he wasn't sure if he would play against the Ravens.
"He's obviously very sore, and he's playing knowing that he's going to get hit, and when he does, he'll be in excruciating pain," Schwartz said. "But he's resilient and tough, and he's done his best to stay in there."
Although Stafford was undergoing more tests on Monday, Schwartz said the team does not believe there is any structural damage to the shoulder, and that it hasn't been the reason for the six interceptions Stafford has thrown in the last two games.
"If there was something going on where he could make it worse by playing, we would have to think a lot harder about having him on the field," he said. "Right now, though, it is just a matter of pain management. If he can deal with the pain -- and that's a conversation we have on a constant basis -- he's our starting quarterback."
"It's a similar situation to when he was having problems with his knee earlier in the year," he said. "We'll make sure that both our number-two and number-three quarterbacks are ready, in case it does become an issue."
The one thing that won't enter the discussion is the Ravens' reputation as a hard-hitting defense.
"That won't be part of the process," Schwartz said. "Absolutely not."
Schwartz also said that the Lions would consider working out punters in case they need to replace Nick Harris, who injured his knee making a tackle against the Bengals but finished the game.
Cornerback Will James, who left the game with a shoulder injury, said he hopes to play against Baltimore. James also said that he is impressed by Detroit's attitude with a 2-10 record following an 0-16 season.
"Last year, when I was in Jacksonville, you heard that the Lions had quit late in the season, but I haven't seen any of that this year," he said. "This team isn't worried about a bad record -- we're playing hard every game. That's down to character. Nothing else."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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