Originally written on Fox Sports  |  Last updated 11/19/14

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 27: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions passes the football against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on September 27, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Redskins 19-14. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford was hanging out in Georgia a year ago, recovering from surgery on his right shoulder and waiting for the NFL's labor problems to end. The quarterback, his throwing arm and the league are in much better shape these days. ''It's nice to not have to put myself back together,'' Stafford said Monday as he joined his teammates for their first voluntary workout of the year to lift weights, run and throw passes to receivers without coaches allowed to observe. Stafford threw for 5,000-plus yards and 41 touchdowns last season to lead Detroit to its first playoff appearance since the 1999 season. The Lions were able to keep all the players they wanted, other than cornerback Eric Wright, who left to sign with Tampa Bay, and also kept much of their coaching staff together. ''We're building,'' Stafford said. ''We're not starting from scratch.'' While the Lions are trying to ride the momentum created last season, Stafford said coach Jim Schwartz had an off-the-field message t...
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