| The Detroit News
The Detroit Lions placed quarterback Matthew Stafford on the COVID-19 reserve list on Wednesday, putting his status for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings in jeopardy.
Stafford was unexpectedly not at the afternoon practice and the team released a statement at 4 p.m. announcing the designation. The statement, referencing the purpose of the league’s COVID reserve list, states Stafford either tested positive for the virus or was knowingly in close contact with someone else who tested positive.
If Stafford tested positive for the virus, he’s required to be on the reserve list a minimum of five days and would miss Sunday’s game. And if he tested positive while exhibiting symptoms, he wouldn’t be eligible to return until 10 days after those symptoms first presented and 72 hours after a symptom last appears.
The only way Stafford plays Sunday is if his stint on the list is related to a high-risk contact and he began his five-day required isolation a day earlier. According to ESPN, that appears to be the situation.
“Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford is considered a ‘high-risk, close contact’ from a non team member, per source,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted. “His last contact was Monday, which means he would be eligible to come off the Reserve/COVID list Sunday and play vs. the Vikings, pending negative tests for him, per source.”
This is actually Stafford’s second stint on the COVID reserve list. After reporting for training camp at the end of the July, he had what was later determined to be a false-positive test and was activated days later.
That incident led to the league changing its policies to address false-positives going forward. It also angered wife, Kelly, who ranted on Instagram about how the perception of Matthew testing positive negatively impacted the family’s daily lives.
“Even after we knew it was a false positive, our school told us they were not allowed back, I was approached in a grocery store and told I was ‘endangering others,’ my kids were harassed and kicked off a playground, I was told I needed to wait in my car when trying to pick up food, and people closest to us had to get tested just so they could go back to work,” Kelly Stafford wrote on Instagram. “And that’s just to name a few things. I don’t blame these scenarios on any of the people directly involved. I understand where they are coming from, but I do blame the NFL. I blame the NFL for not holding themselves accountable. These are people’s lives and livelihoods that are in those results in their test sites. Maybe we should be absolutely positive a person has COVID before releasing that info into the world.”
After Matthew was placed back on the list on Wednesday, Kelly simply posted, “Here we go again.”
The Stafford news comes one day after the Lions placed linebacker Jarrad Davis on the list. A team source confirmed the cases were unrelated.
Stafford hasn’t missed an offensive snap this season, playing all 464 through seven games. He did miss the final eight games of the 2019 season with a back injury, but to this point, there have been no residual issues from that injury.
If he ends up being sidelined against the Vikings, the Lions will likely turn to backup Chase Daniel against the Vikings. The 11-year veteran has appeared in 65 games during his career, but has started just five. He’s completed 68.3 percent of his 218 pass attempts with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
David Blough, who was recently promoted off the practice squad, would serve as Daniel’s backup. An undrafted rookie a year ago, Blough made five starts while Stafford was injured.
Through seven games this season, Stafford has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,916 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
In addition to Stafford, the Lions were down multiple players for Wednesday’s practice, while several others were limited. Included in that group is 60 percent of the team’s starting offensive line.
Not practicing for the Lions were left tackle Taylor Decker (back), right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip), safety Tracy Walker (foot) and return man Jamal Agnew (ribs).
Guard Joe Dahl (back), tight end T.J. Hockenson (toe), cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring), defensive tackle Danny Shelton (wrist), linebacker Christian Jones (knee) and cornerback Darryl Roberts (hip/groin) were all limited.