DAVID RICHARD / AP Enlarge
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Detroit Lions.
After all, if the Lions hadn't had Sunday off, they might not have been able to field a team.
“We had between 16 and 19 players who couldn't practice at times last week, and that number wouldn't have been much lower on Sunday,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after Tuesday's practice. “We would have had some trouble.”
Instead, the Lions (1-5) got a chance to heal over the last week, shrinking the injured list significantly.
“Right now, with the exception of Shaun Hill and Zack Follett, every guy on the team is in the mix for Sunday,” Schwartz said. “There might be a couple guys who can't go against the Redskins, but they are at least back in the mix.”
Most important, the Lions are expected to have starting quarterback Matthew Stafford back for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. Stafford hasn't played since sustaining a shoulder injury in Detroit's season-opening loss in Chicago.
“Matt practiced last week, so he's had plenty of time to get his timing back,” receiver Calvin Johnson said. “Today, everything was back on the same page. I don't think the ball ever hit the ground during practice — he was hitting everyone.”
Stafford's return is more important after Hill sustained a broken arm in Detroit's loss to the New York Giants. With Stafford still sidelined, the Lions finished that game with Drew Stanton as their only healthy quarterback.
“By getting to practice last week, Matthew has had plenty of time to get ready,” Schwartz said. “His arm strength is good and his command and accuracy are right where they were before he got hurt.”
Schwartz, though, didn't commit to the status of a key defensive starter, middle linebacker DeAndre Levy.
“I know what we have with DeAndre, and my plans haven't changed,” Schwartz said. “If this had been one injury that had been bothering since the beginning of camp, I might be concerned, but it isn't. He had the lower-back problem, and then a groin, and now he's got an ankle. He'll put all of those behind him.”
While he stressed that the Lions are only worried about themselves, the coach did acknowledge that he's pleased with the lack of a dominant team in the NFC North.
“You have to keep your focus on your own games, and only worry about those, but it is nice that no one has distanced themselves from the pack yet,” Schwartz said.
NOTES: Schwartz said that Follett, who suffered a neck injury against the Giants, would see a specialist in the next few days to determine if there is any chance that he could return this season. “We probably already know the answer, but we want to get a specialist opinion to be sure.”