Fans in Detroit are filled with anticipation as we enter the 2012 NFL season, hopeful that their beloved Lions can take that mythical "next step," build on last year's playoff appearance and notch the franchise's first postseason win since 1991.
However, many of those same fans likely turned Honolulu Blue watching Saturday's contest against the Oakland Raiders, holding their breath as they watched star quarterback Matthew Stafford leave the field after being driven to the ground by defensive end Dave Tollefson in the second quarter.
Where Stafford is concerned, at least, Lions fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as X-rays on Stafford's left (non-throwing) hand were negative. The fourth-year pro was back at practice Monday, although even Stafford admitted that he was startled by the injury when it happened, according to KRQE.
It was just scary to look down and see your hand swelling up by the second, Stafford said. That kind of freaked me out. The skin kind of just grew by the second. I didn't know what was going on.
Seeing Stafford, who threw for 5,038 yards and 41 scores in 2011, leave the game had to bring back unpleasant memories for Lions fans, as most of the former Georgia star's first two NFL seasons were spent in trainer's rooms and on the sidelines.
The news surrounding Stafford may have been good, but not all is sunshine and puppies in Motown. As the Associated Press reports via the Washington Post, the team placed running back Jahvid Best on the Physically Unable to Perform List, which will cost him at least the first six games of the season.
The team also lost running back Kevin Smith and cornerbacks Chris Houston and Bill Bentley in the game with Oakland, although head coach Jim Schwartz told the AP that he's hopeful all three will be ready for Detroit's September 9 opener against the St. Louis Rams.
We’ll see where they get to, coach Jim Schwartz said. It’s likely that none of them will play Thursday, but we’ll just see what kind of progression we can get them on. There’s nothing that’s really long-term with any of them.
Still, it appears that the one player not named Calvin Johnson the Lions can least afford to lose will be OK, and while their playoff train may have hit a few bumps, at least it didn't come completely off the tracks.