NEWS

Stafford Named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Posted Nov 24, 2009

Stafford, Schwartz say whether the rookie QB plays will be a game-time decision

Recognition keeps piling up for rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his Week 11 performance against the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s a huge honor, it’s awesome. I’m really excited,” said Stafford. “I didn’t expect that one but it happened so I’m just thankful. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys catching the ball and blocking in front of me. Without those guys it wouldn’t have happened.”

Stafford threw for 422 yards and five touchdowns in Sunday’s win against the Browns, drawing attention for returning to the game after suffering an injury to his non-throwing shoulder to throw the game-winning touchdown.

Ironically, the injury he suffered after such a heralded performance is what may keep him out of this week's Nationally-televised game.

“It’s going to be a collective decision between myself, Coach Schwartz, and the training staff,” said Stafford on whether he would play this week. “It’s a big game for us. Every game is a big game but getting a chance to play on National TV on Thanksgiving Day is pretty special.

“As soon as I can play, I’m going to be back. That’s the same attitude I took with my knee. As soon as it’s ready, I’m going to be out there and hopefully that’s this week.”

Head Coach Jim Schwartz said Monday that it was “unlikely” Stafford would play this week unless the soreness went down on his injured shoulder, but he also didn’t want to rule him out.

Schwartz held the same sentiment on Tuesday.

“A lot can happen between now and Thursday,” he said after the team’s midday practice. “We’ll have to wait and see. If it’s the way it was today, a lot of guys wouldn’t have been able to play, but you don’t want to rule anyone out this time of the week.

“He’s still sore but he’s getting better. It’s something we anticipated getting better. Whether it’s something that will be better on Thursday – it’s still too early to tell. If he was the way he is today, he’d be unlikely to play but things can change so we don’t want to rule anything out.”

Another player who may or may not play on Thursday is wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who also didn’t practice on Tuesday.

“He’s improving,” said Schwartz. “That’s another one we’ll wait until Thursday to see.”

CULPEPPER’S SECOND SHOT
If Stafford is unable to play on Sunday, it will mean Culpepper’s second start of the season against the Packers.

“I think that was a game that Calvin didn’t play,” said Schwartz. “We didn’t do a good job of helping our quarterback in that game. There are some other things that Daunte can do better and he knows that. The third-down conversions are going to be big. We need to keep drives alive and not go three-and-out.

“We need to put pressure on the defense. We’ve got to take care of the football and get rid of the ball – we can’t take sacks.”

Culpepper obviously has a lot of experience against the Packers, having spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings.

“Daunte is an experienced player,” said Schwartz. “He’s competed not just against the Green Bay Packers but against just about every defensive coordinator in the league. There’s definitely experience there that helps in a short week.”

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