Lions Notebook: Pettigrew Done For Season

Lions lose rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew to season-ending knee injury. Schwartz comments on Daunte Culpepper's pre-game behavior. More news and notes inside ...

After Sunday's 38-37 victory over Cleveland, quarterback Matthew Stafford and tight end Brandon Pettigrew were the Lions' newly minted heroes. Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, came back from a left shoulder injury and threw the winning touchdown to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the No. 20 pick.

But their luck ran out in in the team's 34-12 Thanksgiving Day loss to Green Bay. Stafford threw four interceptions in a surprise start, and Pettigrew suffered a significant left knee injury early in the first quarter that will require season-ending surgery.

Stafford suffered an AC joint separation late in Sunday's game. He did not practice before Thursday's game and was listed as doubtful on the injury report, meaning he had only about a 25 percent chance of playing. He ended up throwing four interceptions, but coach Jim Schwartz said he had no second thoughts about starting him.

"Oh, gosh, no," Schwartz said. "No. No second thoughts at all. He started feeling better the day before. He woke up, felt good, was able to throw the ball, was able to run, had good range of motion in his shoulder. Him throwing the interceptions had nothing to do with his shoulder."

What about a lack of practice?

"Half of one day?" Schwartz said. "No."

The Lions had only one real practice because of the short week, and Schwartz said they went hard for only about half of it.

Pettigrew went down early in the first quarter Thursday. His knee buckled without contact as he maneuvered to make a block. Schwartz had hoped Pettigrew's injury wouldn't be too serious because the swelling wasn't too bad after the game. But an MRI exam Friday revealed significant damage.

The injury is a big blow as the Lions try to develop their young players for the future. Pettigrew was coming off perhaps his best performance. He caught six passes for 72 yards Sunday, including that touchdown.

"I think we saw him today play the way we expected when we drafted him," Schwartz said after that game. "It was a play that we'd worked on. It was a play that we liked against their defense. We liked the guy that was going to get the ball. He made a lot of first-down catches for us, some good run after the catch. That was all part of the reason that we drafted him."

Pettigrew will finish the season with 30 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns, tops in each category for rookie tight ends.

Notebook:

  • Veteran Daunte Culpepper was upset he didn't play Thursday. Culpepper initially sat on the bench instead of warming up and had an animated conversation with general manager Martin Mayhew.

    "We had a nationally televised game," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Daunte's a competitor. He wants to be out there. We want backups that want to be out there. I'd much rather have that situation with Daunte than a guy that just tips his cap and says, 'Fine.' "

    Will there be any consequences or changes as a result?

    "It needs to blow over," Schwartz said. "It was a situation that needed to be handled a little bit different. But ... it was a very tough circumstance, and we honestly had no idea Matt was going to be ready. Matt made tremendous improvement in the last day. He's our starting quarterback."

  • Safety Louis Delmas took a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness Thursday after he laid a lick on Packers tight end Jermichael Finley. Delmas did not lead with his shoulder, but Finley was defenseless and told reporters it was a dirty hit.

    Coach Jim Schwartz said Delmas had to walk a fine line in those situations and the coaches wouldn't necessarily teach him to do anything different.

    "As long as he's not leading with his head, as long as he's intentionally not trying to hurt somebody, you have to play hard," Schwartz said. "If you get a penalty, sometimes there's good calls, sometimes there's bad calls, but the officials are going to err on the side of player safety, and they did in that case. So we'll just leave it there."

Player Notes:

  • TE Brandon Pettigrew will have season-ending surgery after suffering a left knee injury Thursday against Green Bay. His knee buckled without contact as he tried to make a block early in the game.
  • QB Matthew Stafford started Thursday despite suffering a left shoulder injury Sunday. He didn't practice and was listed as doubtful on the injury report, but he improved before the game and took some pain medication. Coach Jim Schwartz said he came out of the game fine.
  • WR Calvin Johnson played Thursday even though he was obviously not 100 percent. He had hand and knee injuries. He caught only two passes for 10 yards, even though he was targeted 12 times.
  • S Louis Delmas played Thursday after hardly practicing because of an ankle injury. He did not appear to be bothered too much.
  • DE Dewayne White is expected to return Dec. 6 at Cincinnati after missing two games with a toe injury.

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