ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t practice Wednesday, but he wasn’t limping.
His status for Sunday’s game against Minnesota probably won’t officially be released until Friday’s injury report.
“I’m getting better,” Stafford said. “I feel better today than I did on Sunday. Taking it day-by-day, just trying to get better.”
The Lions originally listed the injury as a “hamstring” on their official practice report for Wednesday, but later changed it to “hip.” Stafford said he “pulled” a muscle last Thursday in practice.
Stafford started Sunday’s overtime loss at Tennessee but aggravated the injury late in the fourth quarter while trying to chase down one of the Titans going in for a touchdown on a fumble return.
Asked about his chances practicing on Thursday, Stafford said, “I’m not sure yet. I still have some treatment left later on today and early in the morning tomorrow so we’ll see.”
Stafford was limited to 13 games during his first two years in the NFL because of injuries. He came back to play every game last season despite finger and ankle injuries.
Told that it appeared the regular officials might be returning as early as this week, Stafford sounded elated.
“Swe-eeet,” he said in a high-pitched voice.
“It wasn’t a distraction,” Stafford said, referring to the replacements. “You just noticed it in the game. You just noticed that the pace of the game (was slower), hashes would get switched on quarter changes, just little things that you don’t want to deal with in a game that you had to deal with.”
Shaun Hill, Stafford’s back-up, also had a short-but-revealing response. “Good deal,” Hill said before chuckling.
After it became obvious that Hill really didn’t want to say much more than that, he added, “I don’t like to invite fines for myself.”
The Lions took a nosedive in most NFL power rankings after losing at Tennessee to fall to 1-2.
FOX analyst Brian Billick, a former NFL coach, dropped Detroit from No. 11 to No. 20.
“Heading into the season, I had all but given Matthew Stafford elite quarterback status,” Billick said. “Boy was I wrong. He hasn’t even looked average and now has more interceptions (four) than he does touchdowns (three). Calvin Johnson has one TD reception on the year, and it came from Shaun Hill.”
Billick ranks 10 NFC teams ahead of the Lions – Atlanta No. 2, San Francisco No. 4, New York Giants No. 5, Arizona No. 6, Green Bay No. 7, Dallas No. 8, Chicago No. 9, Philadelphia No. 11, Seattle No. 13 and Minnesota No. 18.
Ten of Detroit’s final 13 games are against that group of NFC opponents.
The lawyer for defensive tackle Nick Fairley was in court Wednesday in Mobile, Ala., trying to get Fairley into a diversion program instead of having to face trial on one of his two offseason arrests.
Fairley was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and trying to elude police during a May 27 incident.
“I just can’t comment on that, anything about the case that’s going on because it’s still pending,” Fairley said following practice.
Fairley is facing a likely suspension from the league, possibly for two games, sometime this season.
“I’m glad to be out there on the field,” he said. “I’m just coming in every day, working hard, not really thinking about it, just trying to help the team win.”
… Nick Harris, who played for Detroit from 2003-2010, was back for practice with the Lions after being signed Tuesday to replace injured punter Ben Graham.
“It’s awesome,” Harris said of his return. “It’s kind of strange. I look at the rookies and they look at me like ‘Who’s the new guy?’ I look at them like they’re the new guy.”