ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Matthew Stafford strolled onto the practice field, cap on backward without his shoulder pads or a helmet in sight.
Stafford walked without a limp, but his right leg wasn't deemed healthy enough for him to practice Wednesday, three days after he was injured in a loss to Tennessee.
"I'm feeling better," he said. "Better today than I did on Sunday."
Stafford wasn't sure if he would practice Thursday or whether he even needed a practice before Detroit (1-2) hosts Minnesota on Sunday. He wouldn't say what exactly was ailing him, but did acknowledging pulling "it" in practice last week and his upper leg was wrapped as he walked off the field against the Titans.
How hard is it to come back a hamstring injury?
"I'll let you know if I come back on Sunday," Stafford said.
The Lions won't update Stafford's status for the game until they have to in Friday's injury report.
If Stafford can't play, Shaun Hill would start his 11th game for Detroit and for the 27th time in an NFL career that started with the Vikings as a seldom-used reserve in 2005. Hill started 16 games over three seasons for San Francisco.
Hill took the first snap in 10 games two years ago — when Stafford had his second straight injury-shortened season — and threw 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.
Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said his team won't think it is getting a break if Hill plays in Stafford's place.
"We have a lot of respect for Shaun Hill," Frazier said. "He's been a good quarterback in our league. He played here for a little while and we know he's very capable of leading the Lions to victory. Those guys seem like they have a lot of confidence in him at the helm so we don't take lightly him being the potential starter."
In relief of Stafford at Tennessee, Hill capped an 80-yard drive that lasted less than a minute with a 3-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson with 18 seconds left and heaved a 46-yard pass to Titus Young as time expired to send the game into overtime.
The Lions are thrilled Hill chose to return to Detroit — where he's clearly a backup behind Stafford — for a third season.
"When Shaun was a free agent this year, we made a very strong attempt to get him back because we know what he can do," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
While Hill is solid, the Lions hope they're potentially spectacular quarterback is good to go in a game they need to win to avoid a 1-3 start that would make NFC North rival Minnesota 3-1.
Stafford has been relatively shaky this year with more interceptions (four) than TD passes, but proved what he can do when healthy for the first time as a pro last season. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft bounced back last year from two injury-riddled seasons by throwing for 5,000-plus yards, 41 TDs and 16 interceptions in 16 games while helping Detroit end an 11-year postseason drought.
Stafford also showed he could play through pain last season with a sprained right ankle and a broken right index finger that was supported by a splint and covered with a glove.
"It's something you learn to do when you get into this league, I'm no different than anyone else," Stafford said.
Notes: Lions S Louis Delmas, who had surgery Aug. 7 on his left knee, didn't practice Wednesday and will likely miss his fourth straight game. ... TE Tony Scheffler (calf) was also held out, but was able to jog along the sideline and said he felt good after being inactive Sunday. ... DT Corey Williams (knee), WR Titus Young (knee) and LB Travis Lewis (quad) didn't practice.
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