Former Giants quarterback Phil Simms was hurt in four of his first five seasons in the NFL and developed a reputation for being injury-prone. Then he became a near iron man and a Super Bowl champion. The most encouraging aspect for the Lions is that they now have enough weapons—including field-stretching rookie receiver Titus Young from Boise State—to prevent teams from blanketing Johnson with two men. That will open up more options for Stafford in the passing game. Still, Detroit's offensive line, with aging left tackle Jeff Backus (33) and shaky right tackle Gosder Cherilus, is going to expose the quarterback to pressure. Stafford has to learn to take fewer chances—or risk going down in history as a great prospect who got too beat up too soon.
"What's there not to love about our receivers?" Stafford says. "Calvin makes my job so easy. You throw it up there, and if he's not catching it, no one is. With him and all our receivers, it's great to think about what we can do for a full season."
Emphasis on full.
WITH 2010 STATS
2010 Rank: 17
QB MATTHEW STAFFORD