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Lions QB Stafford called 'a china doll' by later-remorseful mate

Jay Cutler isn't the only NFC North quarterback whose toughness has been called into question.

Lions linebacker Zack Follett, speaking in a radio interview in Fresno, Calif., said teammate Matthew Stafford is "a china doll right now," the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.

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Stafford, who missed all but three games during the 2010 season because of two shoulder separations, had surgery on the joint Friday. He missed six games as a rookie in 2009, after he was the first player drafted.

"Stafford, good guy," Follett told KFIG-AM. "He's a china doll right now. Anytime he gets hit, he goes down.

"But the kid is -- hopefully, it's just patiently waiting for him, because the kid is an awesome talent. He has a tremendous arm. The throws that he makes during practice when no one can touch him, he looks like an All-American quarterback, but put him in a game, and you hit his shoulder. So hopefully, say a couple prayers, keep him healthy next year, and the Lions can do some damage in the NFC."

Follett quickly backtracked on his "china doll" comment, telling the Free Press that it was "a wrong choice of words, obviously" and he would say it differently if given the chance.

"I didn't mean anything real impactful by it in saying that he can't lead this team," Follett said. "In the quote, after I got done just saying that, I definitely have all the faith that he can lead us and be that quarterback that we know he can be. I know the challenge that he has, and we're just trying to keep him healthy. So basically, if I could re-say it, I would just say he's been injured; I wouldn't call him a china doll."

Most people aren't backtracking about Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback who has drawn a firestorm of criticism from fellow NFL players and fans for not finishing Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers because of a sprained knee. Follett weighed in on that debate in the radio interview.

"I kind of understand both sides," Follett said. "I think, looking at Jay Cutler, if he wasn't the man who he is, he wouldn't be criticized so heavily.

"If you look at it, it is an actual injury, Grade 2 sprain. But you want to see your quarterback in the NFC Championship Game show the guts, show the heart and go out there and say, 'I'm going to do this for the team and try and get a win.' But he kind of just knew that they were going to lose, hung his hat up and said, 'All right, maybe next season.' That's his character, that's him. I'm not going to attack him, but I would handle it different."

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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