Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zack Follett: Matthew Stafford's a 'China Doll Right Now'

The Lions have invested a huge amount of their ever-brightening future on quarterback Matthew Stafford. But that didn't keep Detroit linebacker Zack Follett from pointedly mentioning Stafford's injury history during an interview on ESPN radio Tuesday.

"Stafford, good guy," Follett said, according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett. "He's a china doll right now. Anytime he gets hit, he goes down. But the kid is -- hopefully, it's just patiently waiting for him, because the kid is an awesome talent. He has a tremendous arm. The throws that he makes during practice when no one can touch him, he looks like an All-American quarterback, but put him in a game, and you hit his shoulder.

"So hopefully, say a couple prayers, keep him healthy next year, and the Lions can do some damage in the NFC."

Stafford played just three games in 2010 and missed six games in 2009 with a variety of ailments.

Ironically enough, Follett ended the season on injured reserve after suffering a neck injury in a Week 6 loss to the Giants.

He did play in the Lions' controversial Week 1 loss at Chicago -- infamously known for the Calvin Johnson non-touchdown in the game's closing seconds -- giving Follett his first look at Jay Cutler in a Bears uniform. Cutler, of course, has been under fire since Sunday for his own injury -- the Bears' QB left Chicago's NFC title-game loss to Green Bay with what was later revealed as an MCL sprain.

"I think the way he carries himself; we played him the first game of the season, he kind of has a swagger about him that, a little cockiness, that it kind of makes defensive players kind of chomp at the mouth," Follett said. "We're ready to get at him. Our coach, Gunther Cunningham, he wasn't a big fan of Cutler.

"It's a tough situation. The thing that's tough about it is, in the NFL, your job gets criticized so much. There's a lot of people who miss work because of a headache, and we miss work 'cause he has a messed-up knee. So you could look at it that way, but hey, that's our job. You're getting paid millions to do that. A lot of angry fans, burning his jersey. That was a little extreme."

Follett's quickly become a fan favorite in his two Detroit seasons because of his blue-collar attitude on the field -- not to mention off it, where Follett's been known to frolic with actual lions. But his comments about Stafford could put him in a tough situation inside the Detroit organization, which has worked tirelessly under Jim Schwartz to rid itself of any locker-room issues.

Follett did quickly offer an apology via Twitter:

"Thats my bad on the china doll comment, just referring to his injury.. have no room to talk I was more broken then anyone this yr," Follett (@ZakarianFollett) tweeted. "Matt's a baller, I see it everyday on the field, and have no doubt he's going to do work next season! "

author: chris burke

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