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Lions trying to get Stafford to play intelligently at quarterback

Sept. 24, 2009 at 4:24 a.m.

By Nicholas J. Cotsonika and Carlos Monarrez

Detroit Free Press

(MCT)

DETROIT — Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has given rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford a simple instruction.

"I wasn't being silly," Linehan said Thursday, "but I said, 'I'll tell you when the score matters. You just play the game.' "

Stafford has thrown five interceptions through two NFL starts. Two have come in the fourth quarter, when the Lions have been trailing by more than a touchdown and Stafford was trying to make a play.

"I can see him wanting to make something happen," Linehan said. "He wants to get the ball in the end zone. He's got so much confidence in his ability to fit the ball someplace because he's been able to do it."

Stafford could rely on his talent in high school and college, but he's still adjusting to the NFL.

"It's understanding you don't have to make every play," Stafford said. "I'm learning from everything that I'm doing. ... I think it's just experience and learning when you can and when you can't."

Linehan said the good thing is that Stafford "doesn't repeat mistakes. He's repeated some interceptions, but they've been very much different situations that have come up."

In the second quarter Sunday, Stafford threw an interception on second-and-4 at the Minnesota 38 . He rolled right and, just before he reached the sideline, tried to hit wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He didn't see the linebacker coming across until it was too late.

In the third quarter, Stafford faced third-and-1 at the Detroit 42. He rolled right and, just before he got to the sideline, threw the ball away because no one was open.

"Different play, but it was lesson learned," Linehan said. "There's no question. I could tell in his mind, he's sitting there thinking, 'I don't want to come off the field here. We've got to score.'"

Stafford said: "I learned from it. Absolutely. I wanted to, and then I was like, 'It's just not there. We're going to have to punt and just play defense.'"

Linehan said you have to learn the hard way sometimes.

"It's sometimes a bitter pill to swallow because, every day, you're investing in the next game if you don't win that one," Linehan said. "But the kid's such a great competitor and a focused athlete. He spends a lot of his time looking and evaluating his performance to get himself better. He's just not out there gun-slinging, that's for sure."

SECURITY UPDATE: President Tom Lewand said the team received a bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security warning that terrorists could target sports venues. Lewand said the Lions will maintain "particular diligence this weekend." Lewand said fans should arrive early at Ford Field for more thorough pat-downs and inspections.

Nothing new has been added to the list of prohibited items at Ford Field. Fans are allowed to carry small purses, fanny packs and diaper bags. A list of prohibited items can be found at www.detroitlions.com.

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Grady Jackson (knee) and cornerback Eric King (shoulder) did not practice after being limited Wednesday. Linebacker Ernie Sims (shoulder) and defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring) also did not practice. Defensive tackle Sammie Hill (neck) was limited Wednesday but was upgraded to full practice Thursday.

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(c) 2009, Detroit Free Press.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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