| The Detroit News
While the signs paint a clear path for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to pass COVID-19 protocol ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, coach Matt Patricia isn’t offering any hints in an effort to protect the player’s medical status.
“I’m not able to comment on the player’s health status beyond just his roster status, which is on the reserve list,” Patricia said prior to taking any questions during his daily video conference on Thursday. “Both (Jarrad Davis) and Stafford are not related situations, and I certainly understand and recognize there are a lot of questions about Matthew and just commenting on his availability for the game would fall in the category of commenting on his health status, which, again, just trying to respect league rules, and also out respect for the player, I can’t comment on any of those things other than just again what his status is on the roster.”
Stafford was placed on the league’s COVID reserve list on Wednesday. As part of the league’s policy to protect the health information of players, the designation can mean either the player tested positive for the virus or knowingly came in close contact with someone who did.
And while the team didn’t share any specific information, Stafford’s wife, Kelly, confirmed reports that Matthew was quarantining after a high-risk contact on Monday. According to Kelly, neither Matthew, nor anyone in the immediately family had tested positive for the virus.
On Thursday, she followed up on Instagram confirming the family all tested negative again, after another batch of daily testing.
With Stafford’s exposure occurring on Monday, that would put him on target to be cleared and activated off the COVID reserve list this weekend. The NFL Network noted Stafford would have to travel separately from team, via private jet. Patricia declined to elaborate on the scenario, feeling it would be revealing to Stafford’s status.
In the meantime, the quarterback continues to take part in team meetings, albeit virtually.
“Virtual is part of what we do, just in general, especially early in the week we’ve kind of made that part of our routine,” Patricia said. “Obviously, these situations where we’ve had players that haven’t been at practice, that are preparing to get ready to go play in the game, we handle them the same. We’re going to do what we do and push forward and get ready to go from a game plan standpoint. We’re always ready in all scenarios.”
Often a coaching staff would be hesitant to play a player who hasn’t physically practiced during the week, but that’s unlikely in Stafford’s case because he’s not nursing a physical ailment. Plus, with 12 years of experience, he’s not going to be hindered significantly by a lack of physical reps.
But if Stafford were to end up testing positive for the virus during this week of daily testing, the Lions would be forced to turn to backup Chase Daniel, who the team signed as a free agent this offseason.
While far from ideal, Patricia expressed confidence in the veteran backup, as well as third-stringer David Blough.
“We always game plan every single week for those guys to be ready to go,” Patricia said. “I would say the offense is really built around all the quarterbacks that we have and it kinda fits what they do.”