Stafford Wants To Return -- So Lions Won't Shut Him Down

It's "out of respect for his competitiveness," said Patricia.

97.1 The Ticket
December 02, 2019 - 6:02 pm

Rey Del Rio / Stringer

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Matthew Stafford has fractured bones in his back and the last-place Lions are out of the playoff race. It would seem like the right time to shut down your franchise quarterback. 

But the Lions won't do that -- not yet, anyway -- "out of respect" for Stafford's desire to return this season.

"We’re always trying to give every opportunity we can to just see how it goes with him as far as that’s concerned, understanding his continual competitiveness and wanting to be out there to play football," Matt Patricia said Monday. 

Stafford has missed the Lions' last four games, after playing at an MVP-level for the first half of the season. It's unlikely he returns, but the Lions have yet to place him on injured reserve -- as they did over the weekend with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, who's out with a hamstring injury. 

With nothing left to play for in the season's final five games, why would they consider sending Stafford back on the field? 

"We’re obviously going to keep that door open and see what happens here with all of the stuff that we're doing with the doctors and everything from that standpoint. Out of respect for Matthew and his competitiveness and what he means to this team and what he brings every single week, we’re just going to kind of take it week-by-week and see what happens," said Patricia. 

Stafford reportedly played through broken bones in his back last season, and now he's dealing with a similar injury. Some extra rest would certainly do him some good. But Stafford has said many times he has no interest in shutting it down for the year. 

Asked recently why it's so important to him to play, Stafford said, "Because this is what I do. I understand your question, but this is what I do. I love playing football, I appreciate all the hard work the guys in this locker room and in this organization put into going out there and trying to win on Sunday, and I love being part of that.

"It’s tough for me to sit there without the pads on and not be able to impact the game on the field the way I’m used to doing. That’s driving me to get back out there. And whenever we all deem it’s the right time for me to be back out there, I’ll be back out there.”

Ultimately, the Lions may decide to place him on IR. His health for next season is much more important than the final month of this season. 

For now, though, the organization is respecting Stafford's goal of returning. 

“I think we’ll just try to make the best decision we can," Patricia said. "Whenever that timeline comes up, if it does come up, we’ll make that decision when appropriate.”