Lions QB Stafford doesn't need surgery on injured shoulder

The Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford are relieved the quarterback doesn't appear to need surgery on his throwing shoulder.

They're not saying much else.

"I don't know what I'm going to miss," Stafford said Monday.

Stafford was knocked out of the season opener when Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers sacked him Sunday, putting him on the sideline with a banged-up right shoulder -- his third injury in the last two seasons.

"Week 1, to get dinged up again, it's not fun," Stafford said. "I'll be back out there as soon as I can."

Stafford missed six games last season as a rookie with a banged-up left shoulder, an injury he said was similar to his current one, and a sore right knee.

Stafford had an MRI exam, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz said it was relatively encouraging.

"We've had some good returns from his tests," Schwartz said. "It doesn't look like surgery is going to be needed."

Schwartz said a timetable can't be put Stafford's return. However, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora cited a league source in reporting that the Lions fear Stafford will miss four to six weeks.

After the Bears beat the Lions 19-14, Stafford said he wasn't sure if he would be ready for the home opener this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Stafford said his shoulder was sore, but he seemed to be somewhat pleased with the condition of his rotator cuff and labrum.

On NFL Replay
NFL Replay will re-air the Chicago Bears' 19-14 victory over the Detroit  Lions on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET.

The Lions will take Stafford's long-term health -- and importance to the franchise -- into account when deciding when to clear him to play.

"We don't want to rush him back," Schwartz said. "We don't want to put him out there if he's not able to make all the throws, or if he's protecting it and can't take a hit."

Shaun Hill started the third quarter in place of Stafford and appeared to make a game-winning throw to Calvin Johnson, but it was ruled incomplete.

Hill was acquired in an offseason trade with the San Francisco 49ers, giving the Lions a veteran backup, but he can't quite replace Stafford.

"To say he won't be missed team-wise that would be telling a lie," running back Kevin Smith said. "But that is why you go out and get depth."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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