Another game, another absence for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
At least that's the PR response being delivered by the Detroit Lions.
Head coach Jim Schwartz told the media on Wednesday that the club will start veteran Shaun Hill for the second consecutive week as Stafford continues to recover from a shoulder injury suffered during the team's opening season loss at Chicago.
Detroit has a Sunday tilt with division rival Minnesota at the Metrodome.
Stafford missed practice on Wednesday, but Schwartz said the second-year quarterback's rehab was going "great," but refused any additional details. In an interview with a Minnesota radio station, Schwartz didn't exactly place Stafford's name on the injury list, either, telling ESPN1500, "It just really depends on how he's feeling, and if he's feeling good and throwing well, can make all the throws, then we make that decision, and if he's not, then we hold him back."
But Minnesota's defense is aggressive enough to give cause for concern. Although they're off to a relatively slow start, defensive lineman Pat and Kevin Williams, along with defensive ends Ray Edwards and Jared Allen are considered among the league's elite -- both individually and as a unit.
Hill, who discretly managed 335 passing yards on 25-of-45 passing in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia, has taken all the repetitions with the starting unit this week -- and given his performance, seems like the safe bet to start.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan remained convinced that the extra practice will refine Hill's chemistry with the offense, allowing the team to move the ball well.
Against the Eagles, the Lions were also slowed by an injury to Nate Burleson, and handicapped by offensive miscues within Hill's receiving crew. One of Hill's interceptions was on receiver Calvin Johnson, who continued a route rather than stopping and turning towards his quarterback -- leading to the turnover. On another play, tight end Tony Scheffler ran the wrong route.
Linehan said that Hill graded out well.
"There were some things there that Shaun wasn’t really making a mistake," he said. "You just can’t make those plays in those situations and make them worse if somebody’s not exactly where we expect and those things. Him playing and preparing another week, he’s a machine out here.
"He had a great fourth quarter certainly and executing a couple of scoring drives when we were down three scores. He’s put us in position to win two games now. If we can put him, as a team, in that position again and have him be able to do that, it would be huge."
Injury Update: WR Nate Burleson (ankle), S Louis Delmas (groin/biceps/calf), LB Zack Follett (concussion), G Stephen Peterman (foot) also did not practice. DE Cliff Avril (knee/finger), C.C. Brown (forearm) and LB DeAndre Levy (groin) were limited in practice.