Notebook: Lions Injuries Pile Up

The health of the Lions' top young offensive stars is in question as they prepare for Sunday's game at Green Bay.

The health of the Lions' top young offensive stars is in question as they prepare for Sunday's game at Green Bay.

Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, jogged out for warm-ups Sunday and threw some passes, but Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions never considered playing him against Pittsburgh because he wasn't ready physically.

Stafford served as the third quarterback in the Lions' 28-20 loss, and it remains to be seen whether he will be ready to play against the Packers.

"He's improving," Schwartz said, "but it's way too early to make that decision."

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft, suffered a right knee injury in the first quarter when he took a hit near midfield. He tried to play on it afterward but felt a problem. He said he expected to go for tests.

"We'll see where it is," Schwartz said. "He wasn't able to go back in and finish. We tried to get a sleeve on it. We tried to get a brace on it. It was a situation where it was still possible if he could feel good with it, we would have put him back in the game. We just couldn't get him settled down, couldn't get him comfortable."

Daunte Culpepper had mixed results filling in for Stafford. He made some impressive plays, like a 32-yard scramble in the first quarter - his longest run since 2003, two years before a serious knee injury knocked his career off track - and a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Northcutt in the fourth quarter. But Culpepper also took seven sacks and threw an interception.

Culpepper finished 23-for-37 for 282 yards and added 44 yards on three carries.

"There's some situations that we've got to make better decisions," Schwartz said. "But I thought he came in and played well - really well at times. He showed he's a veteran player. He was able to hang in.

"That's a tough defense to play. Let's remember that. That's one of the best defenses in the National Football League. I thought he gave us a chance to win."

LINEUP WATCH: Schwartz has not been afraid to make changes. He yanked cornerback Phillip Buchanon from the starting lineup after a poor performance in Week 2. Then he benched cornerback Anthony Henry after Henry struggled in the first half Sunday, putting Buchanon back in. "We weren't going to just sit there and just go same old, same old and keep doing the same things," Schwartz said. "We needed to make some changes. We did." Turk McBride started at defensive end instead of Cliff Avril. DeAndre Levy started at outside linebacker instead of Ernie Sims, but Schwartz said that was because Sims still is dealing with a shoulder injury. Manny Ramirez started at left guard but rotated with Daniel Loper. Jon Jansen started at right tackle because Gosder Cherilus sat out with a shoulder injury.

BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- Consecutive losses suffered by the Lions in Wisconsin, 17 in the regular season and one in the playoffs. They haven't beaten the Packers on the road since 1991.

Player Notes:

  • WR Calvin Johnson suffered a right knee injury Sunday against Pittsburgh. The Lions tried to treat it so he could return, but he never felt comfortable. He said he would go for tests.
  • CB Eric King suffered a left shoulder injury Sunday. It appeared to be a separation, based on his interaction with trainers on the bench. Coach Jim Schwartz didn't say that, but he indicated it wasn't good.
  • DE Jason Hunter left the game with an ankle injury.
  • TE Casey Fitzsimmons left the game with a thigh injury.
  • FB Jerome Felton suffered ankle and shoulder injuries during the game, but he said afterward he was fine.

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