"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."