“Shoulder’s feeling good, knee’s coming along,” he said. “I threw today full speed (and) felt pretty good. Obviously it’s just going to keep getting better. I’m excited to be back and ready to go.”
Stafford reported for the team’s offseason conditioning program yesterday, ready to get started on the first of his NFL career. A rookie going through the draft process at this time last year, Stafford is looking forward to forging connections both on and off the field with his teammates.
“I feel a whole lot better walking around this building than I did a year ago when I first got drafted and came in,” he said. “It’s a completely different feeling and I’m excited to take this thing over and get us going in the right direction.”
The Lions as a whole are in a better position this year considering Stafford is entering his second NFL season.
Rookies aren’t able to report to the team’s offseason program until late May, giving them limited time with teammates and the scheme.
This year will be an entirely different ballgame with Stafford in Allen Park and able to throw from day one. On-field chemistry can be established or strengthened between him and the rest of the offensive skill positions.
“This is the time of year that you build those kinds of communication bonds and understand what the other guy is going to do,” said Stafford. “What I may want on a route and where he may want the ball on a route and all that kind of stuff.”
With Stafford the established starter, his on-field role will be built upon and refined throughout the offseason program.
His off-the-field role has taken a step up as well.
The Lions’ front office wants to make sure Stafford and the offense as a whole have chemistry and will gel together, so they have asked opinions from the young quarterback.
“Obviously I’m not making draft picks,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to, it’s a tough job. But just seeing if I’m familiar with a guy and maybe his past and understand how he could work in our offense or how he might not – that kind of thing.
“I’m sure it will keep growing as my relationship with all the guys up there (in the front office) keeps growing.”
Stafford isn’t engaging in any in-depth player scouting, but he is able to bounce ideas off General Manager Martin Mayhew, the coaching staff and the rest of the personnel department.
In fact, when Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan flew out to Seattle to pitch the Detroit Lions to wide receiver
“During the year, Coach Linehan and I had talked about him and thought that he could really fit,” said Stafford.
“(Linehan) had obviously worked with him in the past and really liked what he had done for him. When we played Seattle he did well. We had talked about it in the past.”
When Linehan was in Seattle, Stafford made a phone call to Burleson to encourage him to sign with Detroit.
“I just told him who I was, told him I would love to have him and said, ‘Obviously I know it’s a business and all that part’s got to work out’ – I understand that,” said Stafford.
“He seemed excited and I guess he was excited enough. I don’t think it was my call that made it all work, but I’ll take credit if you want to give it to me.”
The Lions’ dedication to getting players the quarterback feels comfortable with is all part of the success plan and Stafford can feel things moving in the right direction.
“It’s just a comfort level,” he said. “I know everybody – or most everybody – and the guys. It’s just having another year under your belt with the same teammates. It feels a lot better.”