Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford expected to start despite injuries

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to start Sunday’s season finale against Minnesota even as he deals with multiple injuries sustained over the last two months of the season, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Stafford suffered a right thumb injury against Washington on Nov. 15, a rib injury on Dec. 13 against Green Bay and a right ankle injury against Tampa Bay last weekend. Still, he’s managed to start every game for the 5-10 Lions this season — and will likely do so again against the Vikings (6-9).

“If the rest of me, if I’m good, I want to be out there,” Stafford said Monday, two days after the ankle injury took him out of all but one drive of Detroit’s 47-7 loss to the Buccaneers. “Do everything I can to try and get there towards the end of the week and kind of how to figure it out how it goes day-to-day, how it responds to treatment, all of that.

“But hopefully I can get it good enough to go and be out there.”

Stafford, 32, did not practice Wednesday and was initially not expected to practice Thursday, but ended up doing so on a limited basis. He also practiced on a limited basis Friday and was deemed questionable for a game between two teams guaranteed to finish under .500 this season.

When asked if he felt his body needed to heal, Stafford said, “That’s part of what the offseason is, right? But we’re not there yet. Part of the offseason is letting your body heal and feeling better.”

That’ll happen starting Monday, but Stafford — who has played through almost every injury since the start of 2011 other than a back injury last season — made it clear he would like to play if he was physically able.

Stafford has completed 64.2% of his passes for 3,791 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. If he doesn’t throw an interception Sunday, it would be his first full season throwing single-digit interceptions.

On Thursday, Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell refused to rule Stafford out in part because of his toughness. Bevell has maintained throughout the past month he had no problem playing Stafford without any reps during the week — something that happened in the team’s first game against the Vikings in Minnesota, when he was deemed a close contact to a positive COVID-19 case and was isolated for the week.

Stafford was not as injured then as he is now, though.

“He’s as tough as they come, tough as nails. He wants to be out there,” Bevell said Thursday. “I think, really, those two things are probably the most important. If the guy wants to — I always say this, I always say that your mind is a powerful thing. You can do a lot if you just believe in that. The guy wants it. There’s not a doubt in my mind that he won’t make it happen, but obviously, we’re going to continue to go through the week and see how it goes.”

The week apparently went well enough for Stafford to play. Chase Daniel, who Bevell said would start if Stafford could not play, is expected to be his primary backup, followed by David Blough.



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