Stafford expecting heavy rush

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is expecting a lot of pressure from the Vikings defense on Sunday, something he needs to handle better.

Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions in his NFL debut. Now, in his second game, the Lions' rookie quarterback must face the Minnesota Vikings, who have perhaps the best defensive line in the league. He's on the lookout for Jared Allen and Co.

"There's definitely a chess match, and guys are going to come after me," Stafford said. "I'm sure, just being a rookie, defensive coordinators are probably licking their chops, thinking they've got a shot to come in there and rough some young guy up. It's my job to be prepared for it and try to make them pay for it when they do come after us."

How the Lions will protect Stafford, and how he will react to the rush? Stafford missed on some throws at New Orleans, going 16-for-37 for 205 yards. He said he had to get rid of the ball before he wanted to at times.

"I think he was just playing fast," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "A lot of that, there's a reason why you're throwing the ball quicker. Everybody would like to hold it a little bit longer. But sometimes you just can't. I think that happened on a couple of those, where he probably let them go a little early. But there's a lot more to it than him playing too fast."

It's going to be tough against the Vikings, who led the league in rush defense last year. But the Lions need to support Stafford by establishing the run and not putting everything on his shoulders.

The Lions didn't do that at New Orleans. Linehan pointed to Stafford's first interception.

Trailing late in the second quarter, 28-10, the Lions got the ball on the New Orleans 15 after Reggie Bush muffed a punt. Then they backed up five yards after a false start by left tackle Jeff Backus.

It was first-and-15 from the New Orleans 20 with 39 seconds left. Stafford tried to hit wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He threw it behind him, and safety Darren Sharper picked it off.

"We were in a situation where we were trying to score a touchdown at the end of the half," Linehan said Thursday. "Maybe if you were in a different situation you would have been a little more selective as to what we were trying to do there, not putting him in a position where he's got to feel like he's got to keep up with somebody."

This is all part of the experience.

"He knows what he did well; he knows what he didn't do well," Linehan said. "The biggest thing is, he's a great competitor and he's a real accountable kid. He knows what he's going to have to do next game or the next time he's in that situation."


  • DE Turk McBride was claimed off waivers from Kansas City. He was a second-round pick in 2007 when Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham worked for the Chiefs. He didn't fit the Chiefs' new 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker, but the Lions see him as an end and inside rusher.

  • DT Orien Harris was cut to make room for McBride on the 53-man roster.

  • K Jason Hanson said he is close to 100 percent. He was at less than full power in the opener at New Orleans, and an average opening kickoff led to a short field for the Saints and a 7-0 deficit for the Lions.

  • DE Cliff Avril did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a hamstring injury, bringing his availability for Sunday's game into question.

  • LG Daniel Loper was listed as limited in practice Thursday because of a knee injury. He was not listed Wednesday. He has a large bruise on his lower right thigh, but seems likely to play.

  • DT Grady Jackson did not practice Thursday, after being listed as limited Wednesday. It likely is part of managing the 36-year-old veteran, who had knee surgery in the offseason.

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