'Full confidence' in Stafford's health

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
4:00
PM ET
Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz has made clear that he won't provide second-by-second updates of quarterback Matthew Stafford's rehabilitation from right shoulder surgery. But during interviews at the NFL owners meeting this week, Schwartz reiterated his long-term optimism on Stafford's health and outlined how he is tracking progress during the no-contact nature of this unique offseason.

"From all of our reports," Schwartz said, "everybody has been very pleased with his rehab. We don't anticipate any difficulties going forward. Everything has been good."

The injury occurred more than four months ago (Nov. 7), and Stafford had surgery on Jan. 21. Schwartz did say that Stafford hadn't started throwing when the lockout began earlier this month, but the Lions' original rehabilitation timetable didn't call for Stafford to be completely healthy until the end of July.

Players are barred from team facilities during the lockout and can't have direct contact with team officials. So for now, Stafford is rehabilitating at a clinic operated by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Lions officials are permitted to receive reports from the clinic's trainers.

"Our trainers are in communication not with the players but the people who are doing their rehab," Schwartz said. "... We can't supervise, but we can communicate with the people who supervise. So you have an idea. And you know they're at professional places."

I asked Schwartz what he's learned about Stafford while watching him deal with a series of injuries over the past two years. Schwartz laughed and said: "That we need to keep him on the field."

He added: "I've heard a lot of people talk about young quarterbacks and potentially missing offseason work and how that set him back in development and all those things. I know enough about Matt to know that we're not really talking about that with him. We're talking about his health.

"We're not talking about how he needs to learn the offense, or how he needs to learn to be a more accurate thrower, or that he needs to learn what defenses do, or that his work ethic has to get better. ... He's dealing with the availability of being on the field.

"We have full confidence he is going to get that behind him. There's nothing that he's had injury-wise his first two years that is going to affect him going forward. He knows that. We all know that. We need to keep him on the field."

For those of you who want to track Stafford's comings and goings, he recently verified his Twitter account at @Staff_9.

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