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Lions expecting Stafford to be 'better than he's ever been'

INDIANAPOLIS -- You can expect Detroit to be a sexy pick to challenge for a playoff spot in the NFC North -- a notion that makes sense given the team's smart young coach, rising young defense and restocked offensive skill group.

However, as much as there is to like about the Lions right now, much still rides on the health of quarterback Matthew Stafford's surgically repaired shoulder.

One thing that teams are able to do under the lockout rules is keep tabs on the health of injured players through doctors and trainers, so here's some good news for Detroit fans: Lions president Tom Lewand tells me that Stafford's recovery, according to the trainers, is "off the charts."

"The injury that he sustained last year and the surgery that he had is very similar to Sam Bradford's a year ago," Lewand explained. "And obviously, Sam had a tremendous rookie year, didn't miss any snaps, and we feel the same about Matthew's ability to go forward, better than he's ever been."

Just another reason the Lions feel good in the third year of the Jim Schwartz era.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @albertbreer.

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