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Lions' QB Stafford surprises GR elementary students

6:56 AM, May 17, 2011   |    comments
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Lions' QB Matthew Stafford met Grand Rapids elementary students as part of a promotional appearance for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Matthew Stafford has been cleared for football activities for about two months, and the Detroit Lions quarterback said this morning he's 100% recovered from January surgery on his throwing shoulder.  

"I feel great," Stafford said before a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan promotional appearance at Grand Rapids Community College. "Healthwise, I feel as good as I ever have, so I'm ready to go."  

Limited to just three games last season because of two different right shoulder separations, Stafford said he believes the Lions can contend for the playoffs this year if he and the rest of the team's young nucleus stay healthy.  

 He spent part of last weekend throwing with second-round draft pick Titus Young, and both Young and rookie running back Mikel Leshoure are expected to take part in a large-scale player-organized workout that Stafford will attend this afternoon, the QB said.  

"I'm excited about, No. 1, being healthy going into the year and, hopefully, playing all 16 games or more," Stafford said. "We have all the core guys, major guys, coming back, which is great, and we've added some new guys: (Nick) Fairley and Leshoure and Young. Those are guys that we're looking to help us out as much as they can early on, and I'm excited about it."  

Though he originally hoped to avoid surgery and get better through rehab, Stafford said he decided to undergo the procedure because "I had the opportunity to kind of fix it and put it behind me, and I wanted to go ahead and do it."  

Asked whether there was a chance he would start training camp (if there is one, given the NFL lockout) on the physically unable to perform list, Stafford answered, "Me?"  

"No," he said. "I'm ready to go. I'm good. Want me to do, like, 50 push-ups right now?"  

The Lions finished 6-10 last year and won their final four games with Stafford sidelined, but their long-term chances rest largely on his prodigious right arm.  

They drafted Stafford No. 1 overall out of Georgia two years ago, built their high-powered offense around his talents and added weapons in Young and Leshoure this off-season to help protect him.  

"I feel like I've done everything I possibly can this off-season to prepare to be healthy and go out there and play," Stafford said. "You just got to go out there and play hard and let the chips fall where they may, and I think, if I can stay healthy and the rest of our team can stay healthy -- that's a big part of it -- we can be pretty good." 

BY DAVE BIRKETT - DETROIT FREE PRESS

 

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