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Lions' Stafford looking forward to facing Steelers
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -Matthew Stafford's offseason was longer than he would've liked, missing the final four games of his rookie season with a banged-up shoulder.
The young quarterback's wait is almost over: The Detroit Lions open their exhibition season Saturday night on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I obviously want to play well, but it's my first time on the field since the Cincinnati game,'' said Stafford, referring to the Dec. 6 game that turned out to be his 2009 finale. "So, it'll be good for me to get back out there and get my feet wet again.''
Stafford played in 10 games last year, missing two games in October with an injured right knee and the last four with that sore left shoulder.
The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft was sharing snaps with Daunte Culpepper at this time last year. Now, Stafford is Detroit's clear-cut starter and coach Jim Schwartz wants him to take advantage of the opportunity to play against the Steelers.
"Every time the quarterback takes the field it's important,'' Schwartz said. "You need to have that sense of urgency.''
Schwartz has not said how much Stafford will play against Pittsburgh, but did rule out several players for the first of four preseason games.
Running back Kevin Smith and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, both of whom are recovering from knee surgery, are listed as out ,along with safety Louis Delmas (groin) and linebacker DeAndre Levy (back). The hope is to have all of them back for the season-opening game Sept. 12 at Chicago.
Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 pick this year, is expected to make his professional debut 10 days after a seven-practice holdout.
"Definitely excited,'' Suh said. "I don't really consider it an exhibition game. Everybody's playing hard, everybody's fighting for a spot, so it's my first opportunity to go against somebody else other than my teammates and prove what I can do for this defense.''