Lions QB Matthew Stafford activated off COVID-19 reserve list, set to play Sunday

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
| The Detroit News

After a week of uncertainty, the Detroit Lions will have starting quarterback Matthew Stafford for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. The team announced on Saturday that Stafford has been activated off the league’s COVID-19 reserve list. 

Stafford didn’t practice all week, while participating in team meetings virtually. He was officially placed on the reserve list on Wednesday after a high-risk contact earlier in the week with someone infected by the virus.

That required Stafford to quarantine from the team, and his family, for five days to ensure he didn’t contract the virus. But after testing negative every day this week, the veteran quarterback was officially cleared to rejoin the Lions in Minnesota. 

And while not every player would be able to play after missing a full week of practice, there’s little doubt the 12-year veteran with 156 starts under his belt will be under center against the Vikings. 

“I think if you called Matt Stafford on an April day and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to go play a 60-minute football game,’ he’d be able to go out there and rip it,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said on Friday. “He’d be fine. He’d see defenses, he’d see coverage, he’d be doing all the right things. He’s a great vet. He knows how to play the game.

“I do always think in the game of football that there’s a little continuity that needs to go on, and especially when you have different guys out on the field and maybe different players in different positions week-in, week-out and all that,” Patricia continued. “So I do think that’s why practice is important from that standpoint, but I trust Matt Stafford to always do the right things, be ready to go and that’s where we are right now.”

Stafford’s activation caps a tumultuous week for both team and player. For the team, he was one of three players placed on the COVID reserve list, along with linebacker Jarrad Davis and practice squad safety Jalen Elliott. 

Both Davis and Elliott remain out. 

As previously reported, all three of the cases were unrelated, but that didn’t prevent the league’s chief medical officer, Allen Sills, from placing the Lions in intensive COVID protocol on Friday, significantly reducing the team’s in-person contract until further notice. 

On the home front, Stafford’s isolation left wife Kelly solely in charge of the couple’s four children, all under the age of 4. On Saturday, she detailed a scary situation where their 2-year-old daughter fell out of her high chair, hit her head and suffered a concussion. 

Additional reinforcements

In addition to Stafford’s return, the Lions also announced defensive end Austin Bryant is being activated off the physically unable to perform list. A fourth-round draft pick in 2019, injuries have limited him to four games the past two seasons. 

Bryant, along with recent addition Everson Griffen, should provide the Lions some needed pass-rush depth after Trey Flowers and Julian Okwara landed on injured reserve in recent days. 

To clear room for Bryant on the roster, the Lions transferred cornerback Darryl Roberts to injured reserve. He had been limited in recent weeks by groin and hip injuries. 

Finally, the Lions temporarily elevated offensive lineman Marcus Martin off the practice squad. The move was necessitated by injures to Joe Dahl (back) and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot).

Dahl was downgraded from questionable to out Saturday afternoon, while Vaitai remains listed as questionable for the game against the Vikings. 

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