Stafford says it's important to return this season

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday that he has not had any discussions with the team’s coaching staff about potentially going on injured reserve for the rest of this season due to the fractured bones in his back.

Stafford was asked about the possibility of IR after missing his second straight game Sunday against Dallas – and after his coach, Matt Patricia, said he is on a similar plan of being out there and watching practice but not participating this week.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last week that Stafford’s back injury could take up to six weeks to heal.

Stafford said it’s important for him to return this season if he’s cleared to play, even if that comes in the final few games of the season. The Lions, while not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, are 3-6-1 in an NFC where four teams, including two potential wild-card teams, already have eight wins.

“This is what I do,” Stafford said. “This is what I love to do. I love playing football. I appreciate all the hard work that all the guys in this locker room and in his organization put into going out there and trying to win games on Sunday and I love being a part of that.

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

Stafford said “that’s a good question” when asked if at some point his health for the 2020 season becomes a larger factor, but then reiterated that “if I’m healthy enough to go play, I’m going to go play.”

Lions coach Matt Patricia said earlier Wednesday that the record as the season goes along could play a factor in decisions in the future.

“For us, it’s probably, maybe a different conversation as you get closer toward the end of the season,” Patricia said. “Right now, where we’re at, we’re just focused on this week and just worried about kind of everything that affects us for this week.”

When asked if it was making progress, Stafford said “we’re monitoring it, and it’s just going to be an ongoing situation.” This is the second straight season Stafford is dealing with a back injury, although he played through his back injury last season. He would not get into the details of what the difference is between this year’s injury and last year’s.

Stafford had been on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career before the injury, throwing for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. Sitting against Chicago on Nov. 10 ended a streak of 136 straight starts for Stafford dating back to the end of the 2010 season and he said “it’s tough” to be sitting and watching for the first time in eight seasons.

Jeff Driskel, who signed in September to be Stafford’s backup, is expected to continue to start at quarterback with Stafford sidelined. The Lions have lost six of seven games, including the last two with Driskel under center.



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