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KEY QUESTIONS: How can Lions better protect Stafford?

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell held his weekly Monday press conference that covered a number of key issues and questions facing the Lions after their 27-24 loss to Carolina Sunday and a road game in New Orleans (2-2) up next.

What is the health status of quarterback Matthew Stafford?

Stafford was sacked six times in the game and was limping noticeably in the fourth quarter and afterward in the locker room. He drew the attention of the training staff a couple of times on the sideline in the fourth quarter.

Caldwell admitted that Stafford was sore Monday, but didn't have any other specific details. The first practice report will be released on Wednesday afternoon.

How do the Lions go about protecting Stafford better?

Stafford has endured 12 sacks and 14 quarterback hits over the last two games. That's simply too much of a beating for the franchise player to take.

"It's our job to protect him," Caldwell said. "No matter when it is. I don't care if they're blitzing, not blitzing, four-man rush, whatever it might be. We didn't do a good enough job with that."

There are a lot of moving parts that deal with protection from route running, to pass catchers getting open, to the ball be delivered on time and obviously the protection upfront, including the tight ends and backs protecting.

Caldwell said there were breakdowns in every area Sunday resulting in sacks. Unfortunately, that's usually harder to fix than just identify one area that needs improvement.

"We just have to get better," Caldwell said. "We were pretty good at the beginning (Sunday). Obviously, we were good at the end. We just had a bit of lull there (in the middle of the game) that we just can't afford against a good team. We just have to keep working."

What does this offense do best?

"At this point in time, we need to improve on everything," Caldwell said.

As of Monday afternoon, the Lions rank 29th in total offense (288.2), 23rd in passing (200.6) and 26th in rushing (87.6).

"We need to improve on every single thing we do from top to bottom offense, defense, special teams," Caldwell said. "Nothing we're satisfied with at this point."

What is the confidence level in fourth-year tight end Eric Ebron?

Ebron dropped a couple passes Sunday, which has been an issue at times this year and throughout his career.

"Everyone will point to one game or one play or whatever it might be," Caldwell said. "There a lot of folks that have a bad game or a bad stretch. He's got talent, he works at it and it's our job to get it out of him.

"We'll go over the film with him. Take a look at it. Just like we do with everyone else. We'll make certain they understand where they can improve, where they have to improve and we move forward."

**How has the pressure Stafford's faced the last two weeks affected the opportunity to make plays down the field?


"Obviously, any time you get disrupted it's a factor," Caldwell said. "We just have to be better. We have to run the ball better. We have to throw the ball better. We have to catch the ball better."

The Lions have just 11 pass plays of 20-plus yards through five games, which ranks 26th in the NFL.  

What have the Lions been missing with Kenny Golladay out?

The rookie receiver has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Detroit's offense has missed his length. There's no teaching 6-foot-4 with speed and a wing span.

He's one of the better deep-threat options on this football team. His 45-yard touchdown catch Week 1 vs. Arizona is still the longest pass play for the Lions this season.

"He has some genetics," Caldwell said of Golladay. "He has some ability. Whenever we get him back, we'll certainly utilize him."

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