LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Stafford stresses patience moving forward

Posted Aug 22, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from the Lions' victory over the Jaguars including Stafford's evaluation of his performance, injury updates and more.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford led two scoring drives last week vs. Oakland, mostly because he was patient with the football, spread it around to a lot of different targets, took what the defense gave him and had a mindset of moving the chains.

He admitted after Friday night’s 13-12, victory over Jacksonville that he got away from that mentality a bit.

“I felt like the first pass we had the second play of the game could have taken CJ (Calvin Johnson) for a gain of two (yards) and gotten us a first down, it was 2nd and 1," Stafford said after the game. "The guys were blocking  so well upfront I just tried to move around and make a play and shouldn’t have done it.

“Just keep us ahead of the chains. That defense was dropping deep. I’m not sure we threw more than 20 yards downfield tonight. They were making us take the underneath stuff and once we started doing that, staying ahead of the chains, we had some good drives going.”

Stafford started the game 2-of-5 passing, including an interception to defensive end Andre Branch, who made a terrific play dropping into coverage some 20 yards down the field. Stafford said after the game he didn’t see Branch until he let the ball go. He simply tipped his cap to Branch on that one.

Following the interception, Stafford rolled off nine consecutive competitions, mostly on passes underneath, reminding himself between series to be patient and take what the defense was giving him.

It’s part of maturing for Stafford. He has such a live arm and a lot of weapons who can make plays down the field, but he now has more players who can turn small passes into big gains and he has to trust they can do that for him.

FAIRLEY BETTER

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley has dealt with a very public demotion over the last two weeks.

He was leapfrogged by veteran C.J. Mosley on the depth chart following the first preseason game and has been working to earn his starting spot back ever since.

He took a step forward in that pursuit Friday night with his best performance of the preseason.

His play won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet (1 assisted tackle), but he set up a couple tackles for loss by teammates with his penetration.

“Down in the trenches it’s kind of difficult to see and give you a determination tonight, but it appeared that he did a pretty good job in there,” Caldwell said after the game.

EDGE FOR FREESE

Kickers Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio didn’t get a lot of action in this one. In fact, Tavecchio had the only field goal attempt of the night. He missed it from 51 yards in the waning moments of the game.

Caldwell has said all along this competition is a marathon, not a sprint, but missing a 51-yarder indoors didn’t look so good after Freese hit one from 55 yards outdoors from the dirt of O.Co Stadium in Oakland last week.

The edge might be tipping in Freese’s favor.

“It’s one of those things we’ve been constantly evaluating, this is not the first opportunity to evaluate,” Caldwell said after the game.

“We’ve been doing that all along. It’s been a close race but we’ll see how that goes.”

INJURY REPORT

Rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy missed the game with an abdominal injury and Caldwell said he’d update the media on his status moving forward this week.

The Lions are dealing with a few more injuries after Friday night. Fullback Montell Owens left with a head injury and didn’t return. Safety Don Carey also left and didn’t return after aggravating a hamstring.

Defensive end George Johnson, who recorded a sack in the game, left to have a wrist X-ray. Caldwell said doctors were evaluating him after the game.