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Doctor visit confirms Lions' belief Stafford can avoid surgery

The Detroit Lions are holding out hope former No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford will make it back on the field in 2010.

The Detroit Free Pressreported on Monday that the battered quarterback will not undergo season-ending surgery on his separated right shoulder and that the Lions have no immediate plans to put him on injured reserve.

The decision came after a visit to Dr. James Andrews, the noted Birmingham, Ala.-based surgeon. Andrews recommended that Stafford follow a rehab plan similar to the one he went through when he injured his shoulder for the first time earlier this year.

If Stafford follows a similar schedule, he could return to the Detroit lineup by mid-December. Lions coach Jim Schwartz refused to start the clock on Stafford's return, however.

"When he's going to be back from this is when he's healthy and he's ready," Schwartz said on Monday. "There is no timetable."

On Sunday, Stafford missed the 12th game of his two-year career since being selected No. 1 overall in 2009.

Stafford was traveling back to Detroit on Monday after his latest evaluation.

Andrews' viewpoint was consistent with the diagnosis from the Lions medical staff, which will supervise Stafford's rehabilitation process that began last week.

In three games this year, Stafford has thrown for 535 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. He was injured while scrambling in a Week 8 game against the New York Jets. Shaun Hill likely will remain the Lions quarterback when they meet the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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