| The Detroit News
A day after Matthew Stafford suffered a rib injury that knocked him out of the closing minutes of the team’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions coach Darrell Bevell was cautiously optimistic about his quarterback’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
“That guy loves to play football and it’s going to take a lot to keep him out,” Bevell said.
The best way to describe the team’s current plan is to see how Stafford progresses during the week, but there already have been some positive developments. First of all, the x-rays the quarterback required in the locker room came back negative, indicating there are no breaks.
Second, Stafford was feeling better a day later.
“You guys know how tough Matthew is,” Bevell said. “This will be a deal where we’ll take it to the end of the week. He’s a little better this afternoon than he was this morning, so we’ll see how it goes and how he can progress.”
The Lions return to the practice field Wednesday and the Lions are planning to lean more heavily on backup quarterbacks Chase Daniel and David Blough.
Daniel came in at the end of the Packers game and netted the Lions a field goal on his only possession. Blough, meanwhile, started five games for the Lions last season, while Stafford was sidelined by a back injury.
“He’s only better from all the preparation he has had another year in the system,” Bevell said. “You’ll always see that guy working. He’s always right side-by-side with the other two quarterbacks. They communicate really well. It’s a great room. There’s a lot of give and take in there, there’s a lot of information shared. And you’ll always see that kid staying after practice. He’ll take a bunch of scout team reps then he’ll stay after practice. There are a couple receivers that he’ll get and he’ll kinda take himself through another practice. I’ve got nothing but confidence if we ended up going with David, as well.”
Bevell was asked if he was prepared to hold Stafford out against the quarterback’s will, potentially to protect him from his own competitiveness. The coach didn’t think that would be an issue.
“That’s definitely who he is, but we’re going to use all the resources we have at our disposal,” Bevell said. “We have the athletic training staff, we’ve got doctors, then obviously he’ll have a big say in how he’s feeling. We’ll look at the tests with our eyes, we’ll see how he’s performing, but it will basically be performance-based and if he’s going to be able to function at a high enough level to one, perform well, and two, to be able to protect himself.”
Through 13 games, Stafford has been having a down year, by his own standards, but had been picking it up in recent weeks. He’s completed 63.9% of his passes for 3,522, 22 touchdowns and two interceptions.
In addition to the rib injury, Stafford has been working through a partially torn ligament on his throwing thumb which has limited his practice participation the past few weeks.
Okudah set for surgery
Bevell confirmed weekend reports that rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah will have season-ending surgery later this week.
“It’s been a tough year for him,” Bevell said. “He’s kind of in and out of the lineup a little bit with injuries, and that can happen with a young player. You have to get your body used to this grind and this type of season that you have in the National Football League.
“I think he’ll only be better for what he’s gone through this year,” Bevell said. “I expect him to go out and get the surgery, come back with a renewed attitude and a renewed effort to get himself in shape, to get himself ready to play and ready for this grind.”
Okudah suffered a hamstring injury during training camp that lingered into the regular season, sidelining him from the opener. He then suffered a shoulder injury against Carolina late last month that knocked him out of action for two weeks, before a nagging groin injury ended his year.
The No. 3 pick in the draft finishes his rookie season having appeared in nine games, recording 47 tackles, two pass defenses and an interception.