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NOTEBOOK: Lions tell Stafford to deliver fewer hits

Early in the second quarter of last week's Titans game, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford lowered his shoulder – and the boom – on Titans cornerback Perrish Cox during a scramble on a 3rd and 8 play.

Stafford literally ran right over Cox in an attempt to get to midfield for the first down.

Stafford isn't exactly a small guy at 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds. Cox is 6-foot, 190 pounds. While teammates certainly appreciate their quarterback putting his body on the line for a first down, they also want him to survive 16 ball games.

"I was happy to see him be the hammer instead of the nail," receiver Golden Tate said. "But we don't want our quarterback taking on too many hits like that. There's no doubt he's one tough son of a gun, he can do it if anyone can, but we'd rather him stay away from that."

Cox eventually got back at Stafford by clinching the game with an interception late in the fourth quarter.

Stafford said after the game that he was just playing football and trying to make a play. The same thing he was doing later in that game when he threw two blocks on one Ameer Abdullah 24-yard running play.

"He's a really competitive guy, he's as tough as anybody I've ever been around, but he's got to know when to save those hits," offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said.

"It's early in the season, it's a third down, maybe he slides for two yards and we punt the ball. It's one less big hit our quarterback takes, we've talked through all that stuff.

"At the end of the day, it's an instinctive thing, he's a really competitive guy. He's a really tough guy, he's trying to fight and scratch for that first down. Just kind of keep talking through it and try to be a little smarter about how we take those hits."

Tate has grown to admire Stafford's toughness over the years, but he also knows where Stafford's true value lies.

"We want to keep him safe," Tate said. "The value is in his arm."

No. 61

When Kerry Hyder first got to Detroit in 2015, he was issued No. 61. He didn't really have a choice in the matter. After a year on the practice squad, Hyder is now part of the defensive end rotation, and opponents have taken notice.

"You look out there and see 61, that's not always a defensive end number," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in a conference call this week. "I can't think of another guy wearing that number."

Hyder was offered the opportunity to change his number after making the 53-man roster out of training camp this season, but instead decided to keep No. 61 as a reminder of what it took him to get to where he is now, which is leading the NFC in sacks (3.0) after two games.

Hyder went undrafted out of Texas Tech and spent two seasons on the practice squads of the Jets and Lions before earning a role on the active roster this season.

"You've got to give him a lot of credit," Rodgers said of Hyder, right after calling him a high-effort player. "Obviously, he never became a victim of his circumstances. He definitely must have a great work ethic and a lot of confidence because he's really made himself into a solid player.

"Those are the type of guys that you pull for. Maybe not when you're playing them, but the guys who work themselves up to an active role and make a difference. Especially guys wearing 61 on the d-line there."

Told about Rodgers' comments in the locker room on Thursday, Hyder said he appreciated the love, but that there was no buttering him up.

Hyder just might get an opportunity to thank Rodgers for the kind words up and close and personal after a sack on Sunday.


The two best players on Detroit's defense – Ziggy Ansah (ankle) and DeAndre Levy (quad) – have sat out practice this week. Their availability for Sunday's game in Green Bay won't be known for certain until Friday's game designations are released.

But with or without Ansah and Levy, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said the game plan won't vary too much.

"I think sometimes it does, it affects maybe what you call," Austin said. "I think it shouldn't affect all the things you call, because you go in to try to play a certain way against a team, and if you vary from that sometimes that opens up some doors for the team, because you're not trying to take away what they do best. We try to stay as close to the plan as possible."

The Packers enter the game ranked 29th in total offense, but Detroit's defense hasn't been much better the first two weeks of the season, as they enter the contest ranked 26th in total defense.

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