Any chance the Detroit Lions had to mount a challenge against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day flew out the window with Monday’s news that QB Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson will likely miss the game due to injuries.
Stafford separated his left shoulder on the second-to-last play in Detroit’s win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Stafford threw a desperation pass into the end zone, which was picked off but then reversed after the Browns were called for pass interference. After a timeout, Stafford came back into the game to throw his fifth touchdown pass of the day – a feat that likely only aggravated the injury.
“He’s extremely sore today,” Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz said. “Most of the tests have come back, and there doesn’t appear to be any long-term structural damage, but there’s a lot of pain. If that continues, he’d be unlikely to play on Thursday, but we’re not closing the door on anything yet.”
Stafford, who set an NFL rookie record on Sunday with 422 yards passing, missed two games earlier this season with a dislocated knee cap. The good news for Detroit, if there is any here, is that the injury is to Stafford’s non-throwing shoulder.
The bad news – at least for the Lions – is that Daunte Culpepper will start if Stafford can’t play on Thursday. In case you don’t remember, Daunte threw one touchdown and two picks while filling in for Stafford earlier this season. He posted a 66.9 passer rating, fumbled three times and was sacked nine times.
Johnson – Detroit’s leading receiver with 39 catches for 597 yards – was injured on the same play as Stafford, and was listed on Monday’s injury report as not practicing because of hand and knee problems.
Schwartz also said safety Ko Simpson was “highly unlikely” to play against Green Bay, and that he could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
The Packers are coming into the game reeling from some significant injuries of their own, losing linebacker Aaron Kampman and cornerback Al Harris for the season to knee injuries. Not having Stafford or Johnson to worry about would be a nice way for Green Bay to ease back into the rest of the season, as the coaching staff figures out how to work around these two huge holes on defense.