The Lions did a good job of creating the impression that they actually might not use quarterback Matt Stafford as a rookie, despite making him the No. 1 overall pick a year after the two first-round quarterbacks became Week One starters and led their respective teams to the playoffs.
Perhaps they did too good of a job.
From an outsider’s perspective, the competition between Stafford and Daunte Culpepper wasn’t much of a competition. It was a way to push Stafford to avoid complacency, and to get the most out of him as he tried to get ready for the NFL level.
But Culpepper genuinely thought he had a chance to win the job. And so, as Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com points out, Culpepper was broken-hearted by the news that he won’t be playing, and that the mood in the locker room was somber.
Still, the veteran players are welcoming Stafford with much more zeal than we saw from Alan Faneca when Ben Roethlisberger made his debut in Pittsburgh five years ago, and the only way Stafford will be coming out is if he gets injured.