Limping Lions: Detroit closing banged up and bad

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - The Detroit Lions are closing the season banged up and bad.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford watched the start of Wednesday's practice with his left shoulder wrapped in ice, and probably will miss his second straight game and fourth this season on Sunday.

The Lions also put running back Kevin Smith (left knee) and tight end Casey FitzSimmons (concussion) on injured reserve - the 14th and 15th players lost for the season - and released cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels.

They signed running back Cedric Peerman, tight end Michael Mathews and claimed kick returner Brian Witherspoon off waivers from Jacksonville.

None of the moves was surprising, nor were they part of a major shake-up some expected after Sunday's 48-3 loss at Baltimore.

The Lions, who have won just twice since their winless 2008 season, will likely have to play their last three games with the lackluster roster they have in place.

Veteran offensive tackle Jeff Backus said the team has plenty at stake.

``We need to show professionalism and when things aren't going right, we can still perform at a high level and play to win,'' Backus said. ``We need to try to finish the season on a high note and hopefully carry it over to next year.''

Detroit's chances of ending with a three-game winning streak - and winning for just the second time in 11 games - don't look good.

The Arizona Cardinals (8-5) are favored to win by almost two touchdowns Sunday in the Motor City.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz was not optimistic about Stafford's chances of being on the field.

``He's not likely to play, but things can change,'' Schwartz said. ``His status really hasn't changed. He's still making progress. He's getting a little better, but he's still a ways away.''

Stafford said he hasn't started to throw yet, trying to protect his non-throwing shoulder.

``It's feeling all right,'' he said. ``I'm doing treatment on it, and trying to get back out there.''

Stafford said surgery ``right now'' is not an option.

Fellow first-round pick Brandon Pettigrew, who was emerging as a go-to target before injuring his left knee, is scheduled for surgery this week.

Backus has been impressed with the team's rookie class - led by Stafford, Pettigrew and safety Louis Delmas - even though they've been among the banged-up players on the roster. Delmas didn't practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury.

``When they've been healthy, they've shown flashes of why they were picked so high,'' Backus said. ``Unfortunately, they've had to deal with injuries. They're getting a full feel of what it's like to deal with injuries in the NFL, so hopefully they'll be better for it.''

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