Lions QB Stafford proud he has proven he can play banged up
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Matthew Stafford took snaps and threw at practice as if it was just another day at work.
It appears that his starting streak is safe.
The Detroit Lions quarterback said he felt ''pretty good'' Wednesday before going out on the field and looking healthy enough to participate as usual during the parts of practice open to reporters. He was able to finish practice with his injured ribs.
Stafford has already taken a beating this season. He needed X-rays on his chest and ribs after getting roughed up in Sunday's loss at Minnesota. In the season-opening loss at San Diego, he hurt his right arm.
Stafford keeps getting up to take another snap.
He has been doing that for four-plus years after there were doubts about his durability early in his career.
''I take pride in being able to get out there no matter how I'm feeling,'' Stafford said.
Stafford has a 68-game starting streak, including two playoff games, going into Sunday night's home opener for the Lions (0-2) against Denver (2-0).
Detroit drafted Stafford with the No. 1 pick overall in 2009 after its winless season. He was healthy enough to play in a total of just 13 games during his first two years because of knee and shoulder injuries.
As a rookie, though, Stafford showed how much grit he has during a game against Cleveland. After he was knocked out of the game for a short time, he came back to throw a fifth touchdown pass with no time on the clock to beat the Browns.
''I don't think there's any question about how tough he is,'' Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ''I think that was probably demonstrated his first year in the league.''
Calvin Johnson said Stafford's ability to bounce back from getting banged up makes everyone on the team want to work harder. The star receiver sounds as if he expects Stafford to play against the Broncos.
''He's a tough cat,'' Johnson said. ''He's going to battle through it.''
While Stafford has stayed on the field this season, he is not off to a strong start.
He has completed 61 percent of his passes for 532 yards with four TDs and three interceptions. Those lackluster results lead to a QB rating that ranks 25th in the NFL.
He has gotten sacked only once in each of the first two games, but has been hit and knocked down many more times. When Stafford gets out of the pocket, he plans to do a better job of going down to the ground by sliding or by getting out of bounds to avoid some hits.
''I think last week, I got out of the pocket a couple times and ran and had some opportunities to get down and didn't,'' Stafford said. ''I've just got to find a way to get down and protect myself.''
Stafford didn't have wraps of any kind on either arm as he has in previous practices. It wasn't clear if his ribs were being protected by a padded vest.
Stafford, though, joked he wasn't hiding anything under his baggy hoodie when he talked with reporters.
''I've just got a cutoff shirt underneath this and nobody wants to see that,'' he said with a grin.
NOTES: Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah (back), LB DeAndre Levy (hip), TE Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) and S Don Carey (foot) did not practice Wednesday while S James Ihedigbo (knee), OT Cornelius Lucas (ankle) and S Glover Quin (lower leg) were limited.
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