- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

Detroit Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford’s five interceptions are tied for the most in the NFL, his 40.5 passer rating is the league’s worst and his team is on a 19-game losing streak.

But he has the Washington Redskins’ attention heading into Sunday’s game at Ford Field.

The first pick in April’s draft, Stafford won the starting job in training camp over veteran Daunte Culpepper and is 34-for-67 for 357 yards and one touchdown in losses to New Orleans and Minnesota.

“He can make all the throws,” Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache said after practice Thursday. “He’s got mobility, and he’s got some moxie and savvy about him for a young quarterback. It’s always a learning process for young quarterbacks when they come into the NFL, but he shows the same type of presence and a lot of the same type of ability that Peyton Manning had when he was a rookie for us in Indianapolis.”

Blache was the Colts’ defensive line coach in 1998 when Manning started every game and they went 3-13. Redskins coach Jim Zorn said he is impressed by Stafford’s release, which allows him to make all types of throws.

“He can do a lot of the things you need to do - throw deep, crank one 30 yards, throw a screen, throw hot - just because he has a natural release,” Zorn said.

The Lions, 1-25 in their past 26 games, led Minnesota last week 10-0 after Stafford’s first touchdown, an 8-yard pass to Calvin Johnson. But the Lions’ second half started with a punt and a fumble, and the Vikings rallied for a 27-13 win.

“We ran the ball well in the first half and made some passing plays when we had to,” Stafford said. “In the second half, when we didn’t play well, we missed assignments and got behind the eight ball. It was 10-7 at halftime, and then it was 17-10 [Vikings] before you knew it.”

Said Lions coach Jim Schwartz: “All in all, we need to do a better job supporting our quarterback.”

Blache said he won’t alter his game plan to take advantage of Stafford’s inexperience.

“That’s when mistakes happen - when you do something that’s not native and not comfortable for your players,” he said.

Beware the Lions

Blache said he has brought up Detroit’s futility to the defense but hopes it didn’t need to be put on notice considering last year’s 25-17 victory over the Lions.

“Those guys look at us as a team they can beat,” he said. “They’re looking forward to us. When we went to Detroit last year, if Santana [Moss] doesn’t take that punt back, they beat us. We stunk the joint up last year. If our players don’t recognize that, they’re not as smart as I think they are. … And the fact is we haven’t set the house on fire - we’re 1-1. It’s not like we’re [rolling] to the Super Bowl.

“We can’t count on them making mistakes. We have to force them into errors, and we have to play a solid ballgame or we’ll be the guys that take them off the schnide. Nobody wants to be that person, but somebody is going to be. I just hope it ain’t us.”

Campbell limited again

Quarterback Jason Campbell was limited in practice for the second straight day.

“I did a little bit more,” said Campbell, who added his foot remained “tender.”

Running back Clinton Portis (ankle) and defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery (knee) took some reps. Cornerback Fred Smoot (rib) practiced and is expected to play Sunday.

Offensive tackle Mike Williams (flu) was the only player who didn’t practice.

D. Williams waits

Lions receiver Derrick Williams, who prepped at Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt, has been inactive for the first two games.

Williams, a third-round pick from Penn State, led the Lions with 98 receiving yards in the preseason and was in line to be the No. 4 receiver until Detroit claimed Yamon Figurs off waivers Sept. 7.

“He’s multidimensional, and he can score touchdowns,” Schwartz said of Williams. “You have to be patient with young players, particularly at wide receiver. We’re really happy with him. I think he’s going to be a good player for us.”

No TV in Detroit

For the second consecutive year, the Redskins-Lions game will be blacked out in a 75-mile radius of Detroit. More than 10,000 tickets were available Wednesday.

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