Expect Lions To Expand Offense Under Stafford

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But in the case of Shaun Hill's left arm, and the more attractive alternative, the Detroit Lions will modify an otherwise productive offense anyway.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

In the case of Shaun Hill's injured left arm, and the more attractive alternative, the Detroit Lions will modify an otherwise productive offense anyway.

The Lions are expected to take more shots down the field with the return of second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford, who will start Sunday's contest against the Washington Redskins as Detroit returns from its bye week.

It's Stafford's first start since the team's opening week loss at Chicago.

With Hill, the Lions were effective on offense, scoring nearly 25 points per contest -- good enough for second in the conference. The methodical, short passing game fit Hill's skill-set, but also forced offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to trim his playbook -- in particular, long pass plays designed to stretch the defense, or take advantage of receiver Calvin Johnson's talents.

Stafford will allow the offense to move the ball more vertically, testing the strong arm that was placed on leave while he recovered from a shoulder injury.

Since returning to the practice field, Stafford hasn't looked any different from his training camp form.

"I wasn't really questioning it," Stafford said. "Once I got healthy, I knew I'd have the same arm that I've always had. I was just making sure that I was pain-free," he said. "It wasn't like a rotator (cuff) or a labrum or anything like that. It had nothing to do with the mechanics of throwing."

The Lions will also welcome the healthy returns of running back Jahvid Best (turf toe), along with receivers Nate Burleson (ankle) and Calvin Johnson (shoulder).

Defensively, they'll finally field a defense that includes stud, second-year linebacker DeAndre Levy, who has missed most of the season with various injuries.

Notebook (Courtesy TSX)

  • Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has pledged $2.6 million to his alma mater, Nebraska, including $600,000 to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create scholarships for engineering students. Also, there now exists the Ndamukong Suh Strength and Conditioning Center located within the Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex.
  • Placekicker Jason Hanson is having a bounce-back year at age 40. Last season he made 21 of his 28 field goals, his worst rate since 2001. He was 1-for-4 on field goals of 50 or more yards. This season, he has made nine of 10, including six of seven from 50 yards or better. His only miss was a 55-yarder. His kickoffs, however, haven't been very deep.

    "On field goals, my leg is as strong as ever," he said. "I've had some issues with my Achilles (heel) on my kicking leg, and so I've had trouble running. What's happened on my kickoffs is, I'm kicking fine, but I'm not able to generate the power into the ball. So I'm not getting that extra depth. But they're high and our cover team is doing a great job."

  • OG Stephen Peterman was fined $7,500 by the league for a late hit during the Giants game two weeks ago.
  • QB Shaun Hill (forearm) has not been ruled out for the season, and the Lions had not, as of Monday, signed another quarterback.
  • WR Bryant Johnson has been the forgotten man this season. Averaging 40-plus catches a year for the last seven seasons, he's on a pace to catch just 18 passes this season. He has seven in six games. His role has changed significantly. He is the third receiver in an offense that features a lot of two-tight end sets. "It's a little frustrating, but we still have 10 games to go," he said. "I would hope there would be more opportunities, but I don't make the play calls. I just go out every day and work hard and try to get better."
  • OG Cody Wallace was signed off the Jets' practice squad, which was curious because the Lions have been happy with their depth on the interior. The Lions play the Jets on Nov. 7. They wouldn't sign him just to get a head start on their preparation for that game, would they?
  • LB Bobby Carpenter, who was waived by Miami, is happy to be back in a 4-3 defensive scheme, regardless of whether he's playing inside or outside. "I know a little bit about this system," he said. "It's all football. It's all fits and gaps and alignments. The coaches here have been very helpful, very instructive."

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