Matthew Stafford had an MRI on his right shoulder on Monday. The results of the MRI are expected to be shared with Dr. James Andrews at some point so the Lions can get a second opinion from someone who has examined Stafford in the past. It's not known publicly what injury Stafford suffered, but Jim Schwartz said on Monday that, based on talking to the doctors, Stafford suffered a new injury and not an aggravation of the injury that forced him to miss the first part of the season.
On Monday night on Mitch Albom's radio show, Stafford said that he doesn't think he will be able to play against the Bills. That doesn't exactly establish a clear timeline or outline the severity of the injury, but it means that the Lions will likely be turning to a backup quarterback on Sunday in Buffalo. The question now becomes, is Shaun Hill healthy enough to play? He was very effective in filling in for Stafford, but he suffered a broken arm against the Giants. While he did practice last week on a limited basis and was dressed this past Sunday, Schwartz said after the game that Hill was there only for an emergency and could have only handed the ball off. He did say on Monday that Hill could be ready for the Bills game, but right now it's not clear.
What also isn't clear is just how long the Lions will be without Stafford. Tom Kowalski reported earlier today that, via a source close to the situation, the Lions fear Stafford could be done for the season after suffering a Grade 3 right shoulder separation. His injury earlier this year was only a Grade 2 separation, so if it is in fact a Grade 3, he would likely be placed on IR.
As expected, Schwartz declined to respond to the report, simply saying that MRI results aren't shared with the media. At this point, the best indication we may get about how long Stafford will be out and/or if Hill will be able to play this week or not could come from what the Lions do or do not do. If the Lions sign a quarterback this week, for example, chances are Hill will be unable to go. If Hill is healthy, then the Lions would likely move forward with him and Drew Stanton for the time being. Another indication would come from what the Lions do with Stafford if another QB is signed. If he isn't put on injured reserve, then I would assume the Lions feel like he can return at some point later in the season. It's possible that they would still need more time to gather information before deciding to end his season or not, but if a QB is signed and Stafford isn't shelved, then I would expect him to return at some point in 2010.
The Lions are in a tough situation with the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart injured, but my hope is that Hill will make a lot of progress this week and be able to play. I'm sure we will learn more about this situation tomorrow, but my prediction right now is that Stanton will be the starter. He is preparing as if he will start, and although I'd much rather see Hill play, I think Sunday will be Stanton's turn to start.