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Lions could be without QB Stafford, WR Johnson on Thanksgiving

  • By Associated Press
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson played the game that Detroit Lions fans had waited all season to see.

Stafford set an NFL rookie passing record with 422 yards in Sunday's 38-37 victory over the Cleveland Browns and became the youngest player to throw five touchdown passes in a game. Johnson had seven catches for a career-best 161 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown.

Trouble is, a national television audience might not have a chance to see either player Thursday.

Stafford and Johnson were both injured on a chaotic play as time expired in Sunday's game, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz didn't sound optimistic that either player would be available to face the NFC North rival Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day.

Stafford suffered a dislocated left shoulder when he was hit as he threw a desperation pass into the end zone. The pass was intercepted, but Cleveland was called for pass interference. After a timeout, Stafford returned to the game to throw his fifth touchdown pass, but that didn't do anything to heal the injury.

"He's extremely sore today," Schwartz said of Stafford. "Most of the tests have come back, and there doesn't appear to be any long-term structural damage, but there's a lot of pain. If that continues, he'd be unlikely to play on Thursday, but we're not closing the door on anything yet."

Schwartz said that 11-year NFL veteran Daunte Culpepper, who was on the field for the final snap before the Browns called timeout, would start against the Packers if Stafford couldn't play.

"If we were playing on Sunday, there would be more of a chance for Matt, but we've got to move extremely fast this week," Schwartz said. "Today's like a Thursday for us."

Stafford wasn't available at practice, but he said on his weekly appearance on Mitch Albom's Detroit-based radio show that he didn't know if he'd be able to play.

"I'm in a pretty good amount of pain, but we'll have to see how it is later in the week," Stafford told Albom.

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Johnson was hurt on the same play and wasn't on the field for Stafford's game-winning touchdown pass to rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Johnson was listed on Monday's injury report as having not practiced because of hand and knee problems.

Schwartz was surprised Monday when told Browns coach Eric Mangini suggested that the Lions might have faked defensive injuries in order to slow down Cleveland's no-huddle offense.

"He's way out of bounds on that," Schwartz said. "That couldn't be further from the truth. Both teams were running no huddle, and the officials did a very good job of standing over the ball, so there was no need to do that."

And the coach was dismissive of Mangini's claims that pass interference shouldn't have been called at the end of the game.

"If they are saying that you can't have pass interference because the quarterback was out of the pocket, they don't know what they are talking about," Schwartz said. "It's clear. There were more flags thrown than officials, I think. They didn't only interfere with Bryant (Johnson), they were interfering with Calvin as well."

Lions linebackers Larry Foote and Julian Peterson both jokingly said that the short-handed Lions defense had too many real injuries to waste time faking more of them.

"We've been getting banged up all season -- it doesn't matter if teams play the no-huddle or not," Foote said. "I don't know what is going on -- maybe we need to drink different water. Coach Mangini just needs to stop making comments about our team."

Schwartz also said safety Ko Simpson was "highly unlikely" to play against the Packers and that the four-year pro could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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