Raiola to Fans: Back Off Stafford

Dominic Raiola (getty)

After watching Joey Harrington get run out of town, center Dominic Raiola vowed it won't happen to Matthew Stafford -- and he had a message for the fans. Much more inside.

Center Dominic Raiola doesn't want to see rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford go through what former Lions quarterback Joey Harrington did in Detroit.

After the Lions' final offensive play in Sunday's 17-10 loss to St. Louis, when Stafford threw the ball out of bounds on fourth-and-20, some hecklers started getting on Stafford.

Raiola said he fired back at about three or four fans. He said he loved the fans in general but would always stick up for his teammates.

And he brought up Harrington, the No. 3 pick in the 2002 draft, who went 18-37 as a starter in Detroit and was a frequent target of abuse. He said fans should back up Stafford, the No. 1 pick this year.

"You want to run him out of town already?" Raiola said. "You know what I'm saying? That just hit home with me because I've been through it with Joey. I've been through it. They sent him packing. Quick. And they're not going to do it to this guy. I'm going to be right here next to him."

Asked what Raiola said to the fans, Stafford told WJR radio in Detroit: "I don't even remember, to tell you the truth. He didn't say anything terrible. He was just like, 'Give him a break,' 'Get out of here,' that kind of thing. It wasn't a big-time verbal altercation or anything. Yeah, he's right. They're not going to run me out of town. I'm not too worried about it."

Stafford shrugged it off.

"They want to win probably as bad as we do, and it's understandable," Stafford said. "They're going to get after guys when the team's not playing well. I like to think that I do a pretty good job of letting that stuff go.

"Dom was just standing next to me and was like, 'Hey, man, don't let that stuff get to you.' And I know that. I've been in tough situations before. It's just great to have a guy like Dom on your side. The guy comes to work every day trying to get better and to have him on the field next to us is great."

  • Coach Jim Schwartz said veteran Jon Jansen "battled through" his first game at left guard, blocking "pretty well" on runs with "a couple issues here and there" on passes. Jansen, who had always played right tackle, replaced Daniel Loper and Manny Ramirez, who had been rotating at the position.

    "We still have work to do," Schwartz said. "We just still need to get efficiency out of that position. Jon's working hard at it, and hopefully we can get that solved."

    Jansen took back-to-back holding penalties on the Lions' last drive. Schwartz said Jansen was "restricting the rusher," but he said the bigger issue was the situation. The Lions were trailing by a touchdown and deep in their territory. "Everybody in the stadium knows we have to pass, and that makes it a lot harder on the offensive linemen," Schwartz said.

  • Schwartz counted six dropped passes -- five in the first half, one in the second. "There were six balls that regardless of where the pass is, we get two hands on it, we should make that catch," Schwartz said. Schwartz was asked if he could make lineup changes there, as he has at other positions, as a consequence. "This is the first game that we consistently had drops," Schwartz said. "Wide receivers are going to drop some balls. It's unrealistic to think they're going to catch every single one the whole season. But when you have a situation like we had there's consistent drops, yeah, there's definitely accountability to it."
  • QB Matthew Stafford had no problems after returning from a right knee injury Sunday, coach Jim Schwartz said. But the Lions will continue to monitor him for setbacks, and he will continue to need treatment.
  • WR Calvin Johnson remains day to day with a right knee injury. He has missed the past two games.
  • RB Kevin Smith left Sunday's game with a shoulder injury. Coach Jim Schwartz said Smith probably could have returned, but the Lions decided to stick with Maurice Morris because he was running well and Smith was limited.
  • DE Jason Hunter might have a chance to return from an ankle injury Sunday at Seattle. He has missed two games.
  • DT Sammie Hill returned Sunday against St. Louis after missing three games with an ankle injury.

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