Stafford was dinged up early in Saturday night's tough loss when his left, non throwing hand absorbed a hit from Oakland's defense. Taking no chances, Jim Schwartz pulled Stafford. Perhaps as a result, the Lions ended up losing the exhibition game, as Stafford had been leading successful scoring drives lately in the preseason. Also mildly hurt were Chris Houston and Bill Bentley, each of whom have played well in exhibition games and are being depended on to be difference makers in the backfield.
In spite of all the panic and nerves, X-rays were negative and Stafford claims he is still good to go for the regular season opener. That should be the next time he ever sees the field. There's no need to risk things any further for a team badly in need of their young star.
As always, this series showcased the clear and present danger with using starters for extended minutes during the preseason. All it takes is one freak play to lose a vital contributor for months. The Lions are lucky Stafford's throwing hand wasn't jammed. Despite his claims to the contrary, the team will still need to watch the left hand. This injury, no matter how minor, could linger a while longer. There's no telling what could happen within the season if that was the case. Despite the fact that these injuries weren't necessarily severe to anyone, the threat of further ones should prevent the Lions from taking additional risks.
Everyone knows Stafford and these other players are gamers, but the preseason finale isn't the time to show it. Stafford told The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett he realizes playing Thursday night isn't up to him and is confident in the offense, lending some excellent levity to the situation. The time to be a hero isn't now, and thankfully, Stafford embraces that notion. As an unquestioned team leader, that realistic attitude is important.
It's fine to let Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore and others mop things up for the preseason against the Buffalo Bills. To remain a viable threat for the playoffs and beyond, the Lions need plenty of things to go right that are beyond their control. One thing within their grasps is the choice to start Stafford and other important starters against Buffalo.
When it comes to that, the right decision is always staying on the bench.
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