Stafford makes Lions debut

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ALLEN PARK, Mich. --- Matthew Stafford looked spectacular at times, fitting spirals in tight places and delivering pinpoint passes downfield.

It was easy to see why the Detroit Lions took him No. 1 in the NFL Draft.

The strong-armed quarterback did, though, look like a rookie once in a while trying to impress his bosses.

He sailed some passes over receiver's heads and could've been picked off more than once as the three-day mini-camp began.

The true test, of course, will come in about four months when he might be the starting quarterback for the NFL's first team coming off an 0-16 season.

For now, Stafford is just trying to learn as much as he can about a new offense and league after a whirlwind couple of weeks.

"It was good to play football again, golly, it's been a while," he said. "It's just good to run around with the guys and be part of a team again."

Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Stafford was "overanxious" in his first day on the practice field with the team.

"It's Matthew and probably 90 percent of the guys out here, when you go through a first practice as, you're so anxious to get going and you're out of control," Schwartz said. "Later in practice, you start settling down.

Most of the eyes during the practice were on Stafford.

Team owner William Clay Ford watched the workout, clearly interested in seeing the player he's giving $41.7 million in guarantees and as much as $78 million as part of a six-year contract.

"No, I did not see that," Stafford said of Ford. "I was just focusing on trying not to screw up out there."

The Lions and their fans are desperately hoping Stafford can do what Joey Harrington, Andre Ware, Chuck Long and many others couldn't for a team with one Pro Bowl QB and one playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL title.

"Lord knows we need a franchise quarterback," former Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown said while watching Stafford throw.


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