Stafford excited about on-schedule rehab, Lions' big moves

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will need help to lead a turnaround.

He believes he's getting it.

"It's great to know the front office is trying to build around me and give me as many weapons as they can," Stafford said Tuesday.

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The Lions kicked off free agency by signing wide receiver Nate Burleson, then they acquired guard Rob Sims from the Seattle Seahawks and tight end Tony Scheffler from the Denver Broncos in trades.

Stafford said he was excited about playing with the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Scheffler.

"He's got a lot of range as a down-the-field guy," Stafford said. "He's another big target."

Stafford was a target for every team he faced last season, leading to his right knee requiring surgery and his left shoulder needing rest. Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, was limited to playing 10 games, but he was healthy enough to participate in the team's first organized workout this offseason.

"I got out there and ran around the guys for the first time," Stafford said. "I dropped back and threw every pass I was scheduled to throw. The shoulder feels great."

Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Stafford's rehabilitation is on schedule.

"He's throwing 100 percent," Schwartz said. "He's taking drops. He's just not ready for the 100-meter dash."

Stafford threw 13 touchdown passes -- five in one game -- and 20 interceptions for a team that won just twice in 2009, one season after being the NFL's first 0-16 team.

Although Stafford will need offensive talent to thrive next season, improving on the other side of the ball is perhaps more important for the franchise because its defense has been among the league's all-time worst for the past two seasons. The Lions attempted to bolster the unit by signing defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and trading for cornerback Chris Houston and defensive tackle Corey Williams.

Stafford, who said Houston looked "fast" Tuesday, has been encouraged by how active the team has been this offseason.

"Hopefully, we'll be a whole lot more competitive this year," Stafford said. "I'm excited about it."

The Lions are expected to draft a defensive tackle -- Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy -- with the No. 2 pick Thursday, and they have been among the teams reportedly interested in trading for Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. However, Schwartz declined to talk about either subject Tuesday.

"I'm not here to talk about the draft," he said. "I'm not here to talk about anybody under contract with another team."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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