Lions QB Stafford happy to be healthy for a change

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 17, 2012
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 to deliver during Monday's team meeting after two players were in the news recently. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested earlier this month on a charge of possessing marijuana and running back Mikel Leshoure had marijuana with him during two traffic stops in less than a month, according to authorities. ''We've come so far, we don't want anything to hold us back,'' Stafford recalled Schwartz telling the team. ''I think everybody knows that. We're a mature team. Obviously, some of the guys that were having troubles off the field are younger, but they'll figure it out and we'll be there to help them along.'' Stafford said Fairley and Leshoure didn't address the team. The Lions started this week's workouts without defensive end Cliff Avril, who is still hoping to sign a long-term deal instead of a one-year contract with the non-exclusive franchise tag. The designation allows other teams to negotiate with Avril that are willing to give up a pair of first-round picks to sign him, knowing the Lions would have the option of matching the offer. Linebacker DeAndre Levy and offensive tackle Corey Hilliard did work out with teammates after signing their tenders as restricted free agents, as did defensive tackle Sammie Hill even though he hadn't signed his tender. ''Everybody is happy to be back together,'' Stafford said. ''We finished with a good season last year and we're looking to build off of it for this year.'' Stafford said he has been getting in ''great shape'' by training for several weeks with other NFL players in Florida. He played in 17 games last season, including a 45-41 loss to Green Bay in the wild-card round, after injuries limited the 2009 No. 1 pick overall to just 13 games combined in his first two seasons. How does it make him feel, he was asked, to not have to answer so many injury-related questions? ''It's great, except you just asked me one,'' Stafford joked. --- Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bill Murray goes nuts celebrating Xavier’s upset

Pat Kelsey ditches UMass right before first press conference

Report: Top GM candidates not interested in Redskins job due to Daniel Snyder

Carmelo Anthony: Knicks were more free-flowing before triangle emphasis

Report: Deal in works for Raiders to play at Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Yoenis Cespedes: MLB would grow if they played with Latin culture

Georgetown fires John Thompson III after 13 seasons

GGG, Canelo Alvarez reportedly resume fight talks

Shaq comes clean on flat earth talk: ‘I’m joking, you idiots’

NFL to discuss possibility of reviewing penalties

Report: Paul George wants to play with Gordon Hayward

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

The 'Duke schadenfreude season came early this year' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Eastern Conference bottom feeders to watch down the stretch

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker