The Detroit Lions haven’t played a home game yet, and already they’ve lost twice and watched their quarterback get knocked around to the point where his status this week is in some question.
Matthew Stafford was in the locker room Monday, but he wouldn’t comment to reporters on any injuries after last weekend’s loss to Minnesota.
Stafford had X-rays on his chest and ribs after that game, and his health is obviously a concern as Detroit prepares for Sunday night’s home opener against Denver.
“We’ll see,” coach Jim Caldwell said when asked if Stafford would play this weekend. “He’s very, very sore, there’s no question about that. He got hit far too many times.”
The Lions lost their first two games at San Diego and Minnesota, so this matchup against the Broncos is a must if they want to avoid the type of start that can derail a season. After playing Denver, Detroit has to travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks.
Stafford was listed with a right upper arm injury last week. He was able to attempt 53 passes against the Vikings, but Minnesota sacked him once, hurried him eight times and knocked him down often.
“My intention is to try and get as ready to practice this week, and we’ll see what happens,” Stafford said in a radio interview Monday on WJR of Detroit. He usually speaks to reporters in Allen Park on Wednesdays.
The Lions began the season with high hopes and took a 21-3 lead against the Chargers in the opener, but not much has gone right since then. Detroit lost that game 33-28, then never led in a 26-16 loss to Minnesota.
Rookie running back Ameer Abdullah impressed against San Diego, but he wasn’t much of a factor last weekend. The Lions rushed for 38 yards on 16 carries against the Vikings, and their reliance on the passing game was part of the reason Stafford took such a pounding.
“There was a couple times where he got in the huddle, he could barely speak the play,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “That’s how much pain he was in, and he just fought through it. He seems to be OK right now.”
Tate was asked if he thought the Vikings took some cheap shots during the game.
“One hundred and ten percent,” he said. “After watching the film, there were several holds, late hits I thought should have been called. A couple of them, I wouldn’t be surprised if we turned them in.”
What’s disconcerting for the Lions about their performance so far is that they made moves this past offseason to improve the offensive line, drafting Laken Tomlinson in the first round and trading for Manny Ramirez.
Aside from the first half against San Diego, the offense hasn’t looked much better than it did in 2014, when Detroit didn’t move the ball as well as many people expected in its first season under Caldwell.
Meanwhile, the defense looks as if it misses Ndamukong Suh. The Lions were excellent against the run last season, but they allowed 134 yards to Adrian Peterson on 29 carries Sunday.
Now Peyton Manning brings his offense to Detroit this weekend, and after that, the Lions have to go up against the two-time defending NFC champions in Seattle. Already it feels as if the season may be on the line when the Lions take the field for their home opener.
“We get paid to perform well, we get paid to win football games and certainly we haven’t done that as of yet,” Caldwell said. “But do I believe that we have a group that can get it done? You better believe it.”