Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford off reserve/COVID list, on track to play vs. Vikings

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

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As long as Matthew Stafford passes his latest COVID-19 test, the Detroit Lions should have their starting quarterback on the field for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Lions made a procedural move Saturday to clear the way for Stafford’s return, activating him from the reserve/COVID-19 list and placing cornerback Darryl Roberts on injured reserve.

Stafford is finishing his mandatory five-day isolation period after having close contact with a known COVID case.

He did not practice this week, but took part in virtual meetings and is expected to join the Lions in Minnesota and start Sunday’s game.

Stafford is one of at least four Lions players and staff members affected by COVID this week.

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The team placed Jarrad Davis, Stafford and practice squad safety Jalen Elliott on the reserve/COVID list on consecutive days Tuesday-Thursday, and on Friday entered the NFL’s intensive protocol for COVID-19 after a staff member tested positive for the virus.

Under intensive protocol guidelines, all team meetings must be held virtually or outdoors, with masks being worn and physical distancing maintained at all times, and locker room use is strongly discouraged.

Stafford reportedly had a high-risk contact with a non-team member who is COVID-positive on Monday. Had it been any later in the week, he would have been forced to miss Sunday’s game.

“He’s the heart and soul of this team, so as the Lions go, so does Matthew Stafford,” backup quarterback Chase Daniel said. “For him not to be here, it’s difficult on him, knowing him and the competitor he is. But there’s no doubt in my mind if he were to play, he doesn’t need practice. … If anyone can do it, it’s Matthew.”

The Lions also activated Austin Bryant from the reserve/physically unable to perform list, and elevated offensive lineman Marcus Martin to the gameday roster pursuant to new COVID rules.

Bryant, a fourth-round pick out of Clemson last season, has played in just four games in his NFL career because of injuries, but could help a Lions team that lost starting defensive end Trey Flowers to a shoulder injury last week.

Martin gives the Lions insurance on the offensive line after they downgraded Joe Dahl (back) to out on Saturday.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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