Lions Notebook: Culpepper to Start?

Lions QB Daunte Culpepper might start (AP)

Daunte Culpepper turned down a chance to be Pittsburgh's backup quarterback last season. Next week, he might have the opportunity to start against them. More news and notes inside ...

Daunte Culpepper turned down a chance to be Pittsburgh's backup quarterback last season. He came out of retirement because he had a chance to start with the Lions. Then he lost the quarterback competition this season to rookie Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

Now Culpepper might start Sunday against the Steelers. Stafford suffered a right knee injury Sunday in a 48-24 loss at Chicago.

"He twisted his knee a little bit," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Obviously we'll have to do a lot of tests and those kind of things. He wasn't able to really get it warmed back up again, and we didn't want to put him back in the game."

Asked if he thought he could play against Pittsburgh, Stafford said: "I don't know. We'll see."

Stafford was injured in the fourth quarter when defensive end Adewale Ogunleye sacked him and spun him to the turf. Replays showed Stafford yelling and grabbing his knee immediately, but Stafford, in a relatively upbeat mood after the game, said he didn't remember that.

"It was a silent yell," Stafford said. "I don't know. Just a reaction, I guess."

Stafford limped off the field and sat on the bench. He was surrounded by medical personnel, coaches and teammates.

Asked if he tried to return, Stafford said: "I tried. I'm sure if I was feeling a little better they probably would have let me come back in."

Stafford spent most of the rest of the game standing on the sideline in a coat with ice wrapped on his knee. He finished 24-for-36 for 296 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Culpepper went 6-for-11 for 54 yards; he declined to comment.

In three years at Georgia, Stafford never missed a game because of injury. But before his senior season in high school, Stafford injured the same knee and missed a couple of games. He suffered a dislocated right kneecap and needed surgery after a horseplay incident in preseason training. A teammate tackled him while the players were using a slip-and-slide to cool off after running.

Asked if this injury was similar, Stafford said: "I don't know. We'll see. They've got to check it all out."

LINEUP WATCH: Julian Peterson played both outside linebacker and defensive end Sunday at Chicago. It isn't unusual for Peterson to put his hand in the dirt, but he played more defensive end than usual because the Lions had a logjam at linebacker and were thin at defensive end. Ernie Sims returned from a shoulder injury, and the Lions wanted DeAndre Levy on the field. Dewayne White was out with a hamstring injury, and Cliff Avril was limited by a hamstring.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17.7 -- Average yards per kickoff return produced by rookie Aaron Brown over the past three games after he busted an 87-yard return in the opener at New Orleans. Brown muffed two kickoffs Sunday at Chicago and was replaced, but then Adam Jennings muffed one and suffered a leg injury. "To be in a situation where our average start was after a kickoff, obviously changes need to be made, and we're not afraid to make them," coach Jim Schwartz said.

Individual Player Notes

  • QB Matthew Stafford suffered a right knee injury Sunday at Chicago. His status is unclear.
  • WR Calvin Johnson suffered a quad injury. He said afterward he was fine.
  • LB Ernie Sims aggravated a shoulder injury, the one that kept him out of the previous game against Washington. He said he felt a sharp pain after taking a direct hit.
  • WR Adam Jennings was on crutches in the locker room after suffering a left leg injury.
  • S Ko Simpson had his left thigh wrapped late in the game.
  • DE Cliff Avril returned after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
  • S Kalvin Pearson was inactive with a quad injury.
  • DE Dewayne White was inactive with a hamstring injury.
  • DT Sammie Hill was inactive with an ankle injury.

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