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Bucs will go after Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford's injured hand

Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Football

All eyes are on Matthew Stafford's swollen right hand this week, in Detroit and Tampa Bay.

While the Lions are trying to get Stafford ready to play in Sunday's game against the Buccaneers, and preparing backup Jake Rudock in case he can't, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Stafford's injury has changed preparation for his team, too.

"We try to find a way to get a hold of that hand," Koetter said in a conference call with Detroit reporters.

Stafford is dealing with swelling in his hand after he was injured when Terrell Suggs stepped on his hand in the fourth quarter of last week's loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Stafford did not throw any passes during the open portion of practice Wednesday, though he did make at least one handoff with his left hand.

Koetter said he expects Stafford to play this weekend.

"One thing I'm so impressed with on him, on Matthew, is his toughness," Koetter said. "He's taken a lot of hits. What was it either a week or two ago when he got his ankle rolled up on, I guess maybe that was even on Thanksgiving. It looked like he wouldn't be able to come back from that and he was back out there the next series. Yeah, I would never question his toughness. I'm sure if there's any way possible that he'll be out there."

If Stafford plays Sunday, he'll face one of the most toothless pass rushes in the NFL.

The Bucs, despite the presence of Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle, rank last in the NFL with 17 sacks, though they knocked Jay Cutler out of a game earlier this season with a brain injury.

 

Stafford, meanwhile, is the second-most sacked quarterback in the NFL (39 times), behind only Jacoby Brissett (47). He also is tied for the league lead with seven fumbles lost, an area of his game he said he's working to correct.

"That's something I'm working on," Stafford said. "I got to do a better job of it. I got to make sure I'm holding on to the ball. I think every time guys are rushing the quarterback these days, they're trying to create turnovers, and they're doing a good job of it. But at the same time, I've got to hold on to the ball a little bit better, no question."

Along with Stafford, the Lions were without defensive linemen Ziggy Ansah and Dwight Freeney, and offensive lineman Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang at practice Wednesday.

If Wagner doesn't play Sunday, the Lions will start their eighth different combination on the offensive line this year.

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