"Um, yeah," Stanton said. "I think I've talked about it with coach (Jim) Schwartz, even. He said you can't survive in this league as a No. 3. It just doesn't happen, because there's always going to be guys coming in, in the rookie class. It's a matter of trying to establish myself at least as a backup in this league."
Stanton was the No. 3 quarterback most of the season, behind No. 1 Matthew Stafford and No. 2 Daunte Culpepper. But he remains a hot topic in Detroit because he grew up in the suburbs, played at Michigan State and was a second-round pick in 2007.
With Stafford injured and Culpepper ineffective, Stanton got his first NFL start Dec. 27 at San Francisco. He threw three interceptions and was benched in a 20-6 loss.
Schwartz went back to Culpepper for the season-finale Sunday against Chicago. After the Lions' 37-23 loss, which dropped Culpepper to 0-10 as a starter for the Lions, Schwartz cited an ankle injury Stanton suffered against the 49ers. Schwartz said Stanton was "severely limited" in Wednesday's practice.
"If Drew would have been 100 percent healthy and would have been able to take every rep in practice, then it would have been a consideration for him going," Schwartz said. "But as soon as it was a situation where he was going to be severely limited on Wednesday and Thursday ...
"By the time Friday came around, Drew was bouncing around good and was moving around good. But you can't count on that on Wednesday. We needed to make that decision earlier in the week."
Stanton said offensive coordinator Scott Linehan informed of the decision on Monday.
"I heard multiple stories from different people," Stanton said. "It was one of those things that the training staff didn't think I was going to be ready to play, and they felt if I wasn't out there practicing they wanted to give somebody an opportunity that could."
How bad was the ankle?
"It wasn't that bad at all," Stanton said. "It was a little sore, but I was able to get in and get treatment and was able to do a lot of good stuff as far as rehab or getting it back to where I felt comfortable playing."
Was Stanton surprised Schwartz used the ankle as the reason why he didn't play?
"That's one thing that's his call," Stanton said. "That's out of my hands. I was ready to play and felt comfortable with the game plan that we had installed."
Stanton declined to describe how much he practiced or could have practiced Wednesday, saying he didn't want to talk out of turn. But he wasn't happy to sit Sunday.
"It's obviously very disappointing from my standpoint, just not getting a chance to go out there and correct some of the mistakes that I was making," Stanton said. "But at the same time, that's part of this business, unfortunately. I kind of have to get over it and move on now."
- Coach Jim Schwartz carefully answered when asked if he would bring back his staff intact. "There's always changes in the NFL," he said. "I don't want to lock into one way or the other, because there's some things that happen for a lot of different reasons. That's part of the evaluation. Right now we're still working on players and things like that. But there's a lot of different stages to evaluation of players and coaching staffs and scheduling and schemes and things like that. That stuff will come up through."
- Schwartz said there is "a very good chance" his staff will coach the Senior Bowl later this month in Mobile, Ala. "We would relish that opportunity," Schwartz said. "It's a great opportunity to get to know some of the best college football players in the country."
Individual Player Notes:
- QB Matthew Stafford expects to be 100 percent for the start of the off-season conditioning program after having minor knee surgery.
- TE Casey Fitzsimmons says he feels much better after finishing the season on injured reserve because of a concussion.
- WR Bryant Johnson caught twice as many passes Sunday than he had in any game since September. He caught four for 42 yards and a touchdown.
- S Louis Delmas tweaked a knee injury he suffered the previous week at San Francisco. He sat out for two plays Sunday against Chicago. But after running back Matt Forte busted a 53-yard run, Delmas returned.
- LG Daniel Loper started but still rotated with Manny Ramirez.