Chris McCosky / The Detroit News
Allen Park— There was hope in his heart right up until the moment he was told that his season was over. But in his head, and certainly in his ailing right shoulder, he knew it was over a couple of weeks ago.
The Lions, needing a roster spot because of the uncertain health status of safety Louis Delmas, placed quarterback Matthew Stafford on injured reserve Friday.
“I would have loved for it to have felt better and have a chance to come back and play, but with the roster situation, I completely understand,” said Stafford, who has twice separated his right shoulder this season, the second time Nov. 7 against the Jets. “I am disappointed it had to end like this but it’s part of the business.”
Delmas, still feeling post-concussion symptoms from last Sunday, hasn’t practiced all week and is doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. Safety Randy Phillips was signed off the practice squad and will be in uniform.
“We were hoping Matt would’ve been able to come back; his rehab was going good,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “But when he threw a couple of weeks ago, he wasn’t at the point where he could keep throwing. We were waiting for that time to come, and when it passed this week it was obvious he wasn’t going to play this week and his chances for next week were slim.”
Stafford said doctors have assured him the rehab process is going well and surgery will not be required. He said he expects to be at full health when the Lions begin off-season training in March.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I threw (two weeks ago) and it just didn’t react great,” he said. “It was a little bit sorer than I had hoped. I talked to the doctors and I don’t need surgery; it just takes time. You do it twice (the injury) in a season and it’s going to take time.”
Stafford, 22, now has finished his first two professional seasons on IR. His rookie season was ended after 10 games because of left shoulder and knee injuries. He played in three games this season, finishing only one, separating his right shoulder in the opener in Chicago and then again against the Jets.
He has started 13 games and finished only eight in two seasons. Still, he won the only game he finished this year (vs. Washington) and the Lions were leading in the other two when he got hurt. He completed 59.4 percent of passes this season, with six touchdowns and an interception.
“The administrative detail of putting him on IR has nothing to do with his long-term prospects,” Schwartz said. “We wanted him to come back and play if he passed all the various criteria that we set up, but it never got to that point.
“It does nothing to take away what his long-term prospects are as far as leading this team next year and into the future. We don’t expect any kind of carry-over. This is a setback for this year. It doesn’t change anything for 2011 and beyond.”
Stafford said he didn’t consider this a lost season.
“I think I learned a lot this year, even though it was different than the way I wanted to learn it,” he said. “Mentally, I was in every meeting. I’ve been at every practice and every game. I took a lot away from this year in terms of learning what it takes to win. It was just not on the field, but off the field.”
The hardest part, Stafford said, was not being able to play on Sundays.
“I am not disappointed in the fact that I didn’t get to go out and throw a bunch of touchdowns and no picks,” he said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t get to be out there on Sunday with the guys. That’s the best part of being in this profession. You work all week and you practice, but playing in front of the fans and being out there with the guys, that’s what I miss most.”
The Lions spent this week readying two quarterbacks to start against the Dolphins, but it looks like Shaun Hill will get the nod.
Hill, four weeks after breaking a knuckle on his right index finger, took first-team reps during the early portion of practice both Wednesday and Friday.
Drew Stanton, who has a separated left shoulder, took first-team reps Thursday.
The Lions have divided the reps between them this week, obviously, because with the injuries, both are one hit away from being knocked out of the game.