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With bye week looming, Lions' Schwartz doesn't want to rest stars

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Calvin Johnson struggled to simply walk out of Ford Field.

The wide receiver left the Detroit Lions' locker room and hobbled in a hallway, then couldn't bend his right knee as he went up stairs.

The good news, though, for the Lions is that their best player isn't as hurt as he appeared to be after missing much of Sunday's 28-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Monday that he wouldn't label Johnson's injury as significant, adding the team will know more Wednesday.

Detroit did lose a key player, though, after putting cornerback Eric King on season-ending injured reserve with a left shoulder problem. King was hurt during the second quarter against the Steelers.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford didn't play against Pittsburgh after hurting his right knee the previous week, and Schwartz wouldn't speculate on the rookie's status for this Sunday's game at Green Bay. Schwartz said Stafford, if healthy, is the clear-cut starter over veteran Daunte Culpepper.

Schwartz insisted that he wouldn't consider the upcoming bye when deciding whether Stafford would play the Packers.

"We'll see where he is and see how he's trending," Schwartz said. "If he's trending up and he's improving and we can get him snaps, then we have a good chance to get him on the field. If not, then we won't.

"That has nothing to do with an eye toward the bye week and we can get him an extra week of rest or anything else. Our objective is to win this game. We have to win this game."


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After traveling to face the Packers, the Lions have a bye before likely being a favorite to beat the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 1 at home.

Detroit had a closely contested game with defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh and was competitive at times in two of its other three losses. Schwartz sees progress, but results have made it relatively moot.

"You don't need to play well; you don't need to have a chance at the end; you don't need to overcome adversity and all that other stuff," he said. "You need to win games, and we're not there yet. We still have a lot of work to do."

Center Dominic Raiola agrees, yet he's encouraged about how much better the Lions are than they were last year as the NFL's first 0-16 team.

"It's totally different, I know that," Raiola said. "If you can't see that just by watching, I don't know what you're watching."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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