Lions' Stanton overcomes 'hiccups,' makes strides

Posted July 02, 2011 @ 10:26 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Lions QB Drew Stanton has a blog. His latest entry is headlined, "Unique off-season." 

Indeed, it has been for everyone connected to the NFL. But Stanton expects it to be over soon. 

"It seems like everything is moving in that direction where we should start on time," he told PFW on June 28.

Which team Stanton will play for this season remains to be determined.

When the league year begins, the 27-year-old Stanton finally will have some clarity on his free-agent status. With his contract expiring and four NFL seasons to his credit, Stanton could be an unrestricted free agent whenever league business resumes after the lockout.

If he had his preference, the 27-year-old Stanton would test the free-agent market, but he said he would be "comfortable" with re-signing with Detroit.

"Given that opportunity, I'd be foolish not to see what's out there," said Stanton, who also could be a restricted free agent, depending upon the rules agreed to in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Stanton, who began the 2010 season as the Lions' No. 3 quarterback, backed up Shaun Hill and Matthew Stafford, then started three games in December when both were out of the lineup with injuries. In his final two starts, the Lions defeated the eventual Super Bowl-champion Packers and ended an NFL-record 26-game road losing streak with a victory at Tampa Bay. 

A second-round pick in 2007, Stanton struggled early in his career. He missed his rookie season with a knee injury, then appeared in three games as a reserve in '08, when Detroit lost every game. The next spring, the Lions drafted Stafford No. 1 overall. In three appearances in '09, Stanton threw six interceptions in 51 attempts.

"I think the earlier part of my career, I had some hiccups," Stanton said.

In his fourth NFL season, Stanton played more than he ever had. With opportunity came greater comfort, he said, and his play improved. "The game was starting to slow down," he said. Stanton became more adept at "looking off," or fooling, safeties, and he read coverages better, he said. 

Should he remain in Detroit, Stanton will back up Stafford. The quarterbacks are friends and worked out this week in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Stafford, limited to three games last season because of a shoulder injury, is showing no ill effects now, Stanton said.

"You couldn't even tell he's had shoulder surgery just a couple months ago," Stanton said, noting that he and Stafford are going through the same workouts. He expressed confidence in Stafford, saying the best was yet to come for the third-year signalcaller from Georgia.

"He's going to have a long and successful career," Stanton said.

The next step in Stanton's career is to be determined. Adversity? He's had his share of it, but he's tried to make the best of it.

"Everything I have gone through has made me stronger," he said.