MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: First day of camp ordinary for Matthew Stafford

Posted Jul 26, 2013

For the first time in his career, QB Matthew Stafford kicked off training camp with nothing to talk about but football

Except for the obligatory appearance at the podium for an all-comers session with the media, the first practice of this year's training camp bordered on mundane for Matthew Stafford.

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford

There were no contract issue to discuss. That was settled earlier this month when Stafford and the Lions agreed on a three-year extension that will keep him with the team through 2017.

Injuries are no longer a talking point. Stafford has started every game – 33 in a row, counting regular season and the wild card playoff after the 2011 season – for the last two seasons.

Stafford was left to talk football (dreadful, huh?) in Friday's session with the media – how Reggie Bush's presence will help the offense, how the receiving corps that was decimated by injuries at the end of last season is back and healthy, how the team has a fresh outlook and renewed purpose after last season's psyche-crushing 4-12 record.

Mundane, routine, ordinary – call it what you want, but it's a good sign about where Stafford stands as he begins his fifth season with the Lions.

That doesn't mean he doesn't face scrutiny and challenges, or that there isn't hard work ahead to make sure he plays more to the level of his 41-TD pass performance of 2011 than last year's, when he declined to 20 TDs.

At 25 and with the bulk of his career ahead of him, Stafford is as entrenched in his position as any player on the roster. Everyone looks at him to lead the Lions to being the playoff team they expect to be.

Stafford spent the offseason in Detroit preparing for the 2013 season. He acted as though he thoroughly enjoyed the first day of training camp. It was just football, nothing more or less.

"It's fun," Stafford said. "That's what training camp is – our opportunity to get away from it all and just come out and play ball. It's fun, just kind of getting started again, getting the guys back out here, seeing everybody. It's exciting."

Stafford is starting to pile up big passing numbers. He has passed for 10,005 yards combined the last two years. He has 12,807 for his career. By mid-season, he should break the franchise record of 15,710, set by Bobby Layne in the 1950s.

Stafford and Layne are both alums of Highland Park High in Dallas, but the record isn't one of the things Stafford has in his cross-hairs in goals to accomplish.

"I'll let you know when I get there, if I get there," Stafford said when asked how it would feel to pass Layne.

"Right now, I'm just worried about going in, putting this tape to bed and getting better tomorrow. There obviously are some opportunities to do things like that, but it's the furthest (thing) from my mind right now."

The way the passing game dominates NFL offenses, Stafford eventually could hit the 50,000-yard mark – or higher.

Those numbers don't interest him, either.

"To tell you the truth, I'm just trying to get this team where we need to be before day one," Stafford said. "Those numbers come with wins. That's what I'm looking for."