Lions Notebook: Stafford Wants To Start

Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford said the biggest transition from college to the pro was learning the offense, but it hasn't been as tough as he thought it would be. In fact, Stafford would like to start the season for Detroit. Much more inside.

Coach Jim Schwartz has said the arms race between veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper and rookie Matthew Stafford will begin during the Lions' minicamp June 23-25 and extend into training camp.

While saying Culpepper has been great, Stafford sounds eager to compete for the starting job.

"I would love to start Game 1," Stafford said on Galloway and Co. on ESPN Radio in his hometown of Dallas, asked to draw up his ideal scenario. "I think every player that plays in the NFL would love to play every game, and that's just how I am and that's how I attack this season.

"I know there's going to be a learning curve, and if I don't start Game 1, I'm not going to get down on myself. I'm going to go out there and try to win a job at some point. I'm in here to win it, though."

Stafford said the biggest transition from college to the pro was learning the offense, but it hasn't been as tough as he thought it would be.

"As far as the mental side of the game goes, I'm keeping up with the other guys and doing a pretty good job of giving myself a chance to compete," Stafford said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio. "The first day I got out the field I was struggling to call plays, and then now I feel I know exactly how to call them and what we're looking to do against the defense."

Teammates have given Stafford rave reviews, and Stafford looked sharp in the last practice open to the media, threading a couple of passes through tight coverage downfield.

Stafford said his goal this season is to learn as much as he can, but added: "Hopefully that's playing and not learning through sitting. I'm a competitive guy, and I want to be playing the game rather than watching, as anybody does. I want to get a grasp of what this league is like and hopefully get out there and help this team win some games."

Stafford said he had not talked to the coaches about when he will play. Schwartz -- as well as general manager Martin Mayhew and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan -- have said Stafford will play when he meets two criteria: He's ready, and he's the best quarterback.

Notebook:

  • If free-agent defensive end Kevin Carter signs with the Lions, it might not be for a while. His agent said he has no timetable for making a decision on where he will play this year. "I think he has earned the right to wait and enjoy the summer with his family," Carter's agent, Harold Lewis, said Tuesday in an e-mail. "Now, if an offer was made that we can't resist, then I'm sure we would make it sooner." Carter visited the Lions in late April.
  • The Lions say they are not considering moving training camp from team headquarters in Allen Park, though they could consider it in the future. "We are always looking at any opportunity to reach our fans, and training camp certainly provides us with a unique vehicle to accomplish that," team spokesman Bill Keenist said. "We were extremely pleased with the experience we were able to provide our fans last summer at our Allen Park facility, and we plan to grow and expand upon that experience this year. We are not giving any consideration to moving our training camp location at this time."
  • The Lions are inviting former season ticket holders to a minicamp practice, trying to win back their business. The ailing economy has hurt sales for all Detroit sports teams, and the Lions' record has exacerbated their problems. They have frozen prices for most seats this year and have gotten creative with season-ticket holders, holding town-hall meetings and conference calls with players. "We've really tried to reach out more to our fans," said Bob Raymond, the Lions' vice president of business operations.

    "In the difficult times, you have to work harder at it, and we are."

  • Defensive end Cliff Avril says he wasn't taking shots at former coach Rod Marinelli or former defensive line coach Joe Cullen when he praised new defensive line coach Bob Karmelowicz in a recent blog. "Coach Marinelli is a great coach," Avril wrote in another blog post. "I would never in any shape form or fashion try to come at him and say he's not a great coach. He definitely knows what he's talking about and he's coached Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. He drafted me, he's the one who gave me the opportunity to be where I am so why wouldn't I be happy about him?"
  • General manager Martin Mayhew will host a camp for more than 90 youth football coaches from Think Detroit PAL -- an after-school league with 3,200 players from ages 8-14 -- on Saturday at Ford Field. The camp will focus on offense and special teams. "I know the positive impact all of my coaches have had on my life and career, so I view this academy as a way to say thank you to all the youth coaches not only in Detroit but everywhere," Mayhew said in a news release. "These coaches have a profound and lasting impact on our children, so the opportunity to provide them with some additional teaching and training tools is the least we can do."
  • During a media conference call, former Lions president Matt Millen was asked point-blank how many games he expects the Lions to win. Millen didn't give a number, but he praised the Lions' first two draft picks: quarterback Matthew Stafford and tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

    "Oh, I couldn't tell you," Millen said. "If you would have asked me that the last eight years, I would have told you the same thing. But I know this: I really like Stafford. Stafford has a real arm, and Stafford can make real throws. In our league, you have to have that guy. ... I couldn't speak to what they would win or lose, but I can speak to they've got themselves a guy to really work with. I also like the tight end they got. That kid's a good player. So there's some pieces up there."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I had to step up my game, and they were there to help me. In college, I used to wash my hair with a bar of soap. It's a little different now." -- Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, on his endorsement deal with AXE Hair.


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