Matthew Stafford hopes to return to action this season

Matthew Stafford isn’t ready to turn the page on the 2010 season just yet.

Sidelined with a separated right shoulder for the second time this season, the Detroit Lions quarterback is hopeful he can return to the field sometime in December. There is no telling if that is a realistic possibility at this point.

As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes, Stafford will miss the 13th NFL game of his career with an injury on Sunday when the Lions play at Dallas, near where the No. 1 pick of the 2009 draft grew up. He’s started 13 games in the NFL too.

Stafford paid a visit to Dr. James Andrews on Monday and the surgeon agreed with the Lions’ medical staff that surgery isn’t needed, not now anyway. They will wait and see how his shoulder heals up. He was injured two weeks ago in an overtime loss to the New York Jets.

“If I'm healthy I'm going to be out there, that's the way I see it," Stafford said Wednesday. "I don't care if it's first game of the season, last game of the season, doesn't matter to me. I don't care what our record is, if I'm healthy I'm playing."

Stafford missed time last season with a left shoulder injury and a dislocated knee cap. Like it or not, he’s carrying the injury-prone tag now. It’s going to be that way until he can go out and perform for 16 games in a season.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz doesn’t want to speculate too far into the future. The Lions have some building blocks, none bigger than Stafford, and they need him on the field to grow. He’s got to be healthy, though. Who knows if he can be before the season is over.

"We're getting way ahead of ourselves right here talking about that," Schwartz said. "Let's cross that bridge when -- if -- we get to that because we're going in with a completely open mind and his ability to come back is going to be judged totally on where he is in his rehab.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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