CLOSE

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has a bruised right hand, throws passes and hands off the ball with his right hand during practice Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Also hear from coach Jim Caldwell and OC Jim Bob Cooter.
Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said comments that he made to Detroit reporters Wednesday about going after Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s injured right hand were “said in jest.”

“We would never go after any player,” Koetter told reporters in Tampa on Thursday, via the Tampa Bay Times. “If you read that whole thing, it was said in jest followed up by about a 10-minute oration on how tough of a player Matthew Stafford is, which is easy for anybody to see.”

More Lions:

Matthew Stafford throws at Detroit Lions practice, has fingers taped

Jim Caldwell’s greatest strength may be his downfall with Detroit Lions

Stafford suffered a bruised and swollen throwing hand in the Lions’ 44-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last week when linebacker Terrell Suggs stepped on his hand.

He sat out most of practice Wednesday, but returned on Thursday with two taped fingers and teammates spoke optimistically about his availability for this week’s game against the Buccaneers.

Koetter, in a conference call Wednesday, was asked what’s different about preparing for a quarterback with a bad throwing hand.

“We try to find a way to get a hold of that hand,” Koetter said.

Asked if he expected Stafford to play, Koetter indicated he did.

“One thing I’m so impressed with on him, on Matthew, is his toughness,” Koetter said. “He’s taken a lot of hits. What was it either a week or two ago when he got his ankle rolled up on, I guess maybe that was even on Thanksgiving. It looked like he wouldn’t be able to come back from that and he was back out there the next series. Yeah, I would never question his toughness. I’m sure if there’s any way possible that he’ll be out there.”

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Thursday that he did not think Koetter’s comments were meant to be taken seriously.

“It was in jest, next question,” he said.

Asked how he knew that, Caldwell said, “I know him. Next question.”

Contact Dave Birkett: dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our Lions Xtra app for free on Apple and Android!