Lions K Hanson believes he'll be ready to play Week 1

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jason Hanson says he is on schedule to play in the Detroit Lions' season opener Sept. 13.

Hanson missed Saturday's preseason loss to Cleveland after undergoing minor knee surgery last week, but said Monday the training staff thinks his recovery is going well enough to play in New Orleans.

Hanson said he began having trouble with the knee in early August, but played through the injury and kicked the winning field goal as time expired in Detroit's first exhibition game.

"The doctors and trainers are telling me that I'm recovering on the right timetable," he said. "It isn't going as fast as I want, but I can't kick until they tell me I'm ready."

Coach Jim Schwartz was hoping a Sunday movie might improve his mood. It didn't help.

The Detroit Lions coach spent the day watching film of Saturday's 27-10 loss to Cleveland, and didn't think it looked any better on second viewing.

"There are times when you watch the film and realize that things weren't as bad as you thought or were better than you thought," Schwartz said Monday. "This time, it was every bit as bad as we thought on Saturday."

The Lions fell behind 20-0 in the first quarter -- something that looked all too familiar after their record-setting 0-16 2008 season -- and Schwartz said there were plenty of reasons.

"We dropped a bunch of passes, we fumbled the ball several times and lost two of them, and we missed tackles that cost us 120 yards of rushing," he said. "Those are the things that we worked on this morning."

No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford started against the Browns, but struggled, going 5-for-13 with 34 yards and an interception.

"It was tough out there," Stafford said after Monday's practice. "We didn't execute as a team the way we needed. You learn from your mistakes, and there was a lot to learn from in that game."

Stafford also had an interception returned for a touchdown in the first preseason game, but Schwartz said he isn't ready to make a decision between the rookie and veteran Daunte Culpepper.

"There's still a long way to go, and we've never had a timetable on the decision," Schwartz said. "We're probably not going to make the decision this week, and even if we did, we probably wouldn't announce it. After all, there's a team in New Orleans that is going to be game-planning for the first game of the regular season, and they would like to know who we'll be starting."

While most coaches would want to identify a starter before the third preseason game, planning to use it as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, Schwartz doesn't think that's important.

"We've got a different approach -- our players aren't going to only make a cameo appearance in the last preseason game," he said. "I don't know if we'll play them for the entire first half, or something short of that, but it isn't going to be a cup of coffee and then sitting on the bench. If you do that, there's too much of a layoff between their last real action -- the third preseason game -- and the regular-season opener."

Schwartz also isn't a believer that his starting unit needs to get a lot of time together in the exhibition games.

"I don't think you develop chemistry by having the guys on the field for 15 plays in a preseason game," he said. "I think it comes from hundreds of reps on the practice field in training camp, and they are getting that."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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