Lions’ Matthew Stafford on rib injury: ‘I’m not counting myself out’

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
| The Detroit News

Matthew Stafford didn’t practice on Wednesday, and potentially won’t the remainder of the week, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Detroit Lions quarterback won’t start on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. 

“I think it kind of boils down to being able to operate, you know?,” Stafford said. “Go out there and be able to throw it around, be able to feel good enough to know or at least give guys the chance of finishing the game. Don’t want it to be one of those things where you go out there and do something weird early, and you’re out after the first series of the game or something.

“I’m gonna have to rest, but I’m not counting myself out,” Stafford said. “Just trying to see how it progresses throughout the week.”

Stafford suffered a rib injury near the end of the Lions’ loss last Sunday to the Green Bay Packers while scrambling for a first down. He stayed on the field one additional play, a scoring handoff to running back Kerryon Johnson, before realizing he wasn’t physically able to continue. 

“Sunday, I did not feel good, obviously,” Stafford said. “Just wasn’t able to function. That was the biggest thing. I was kinda spasming, locking up a little bit and I wasn’t able to throw. That’s basically what it boils down to. So when I wasn’t able to do that, I thought our best chance was to let Chase (Daniel) go out there and operate. I obviously don’t ever like coming off the field, but I didn’t feel like I could help us anymore. Been doing everything I can to try and make it feel better from then on out.”

The Lions netted a field goal on Daniel’s lone possession, but the team wasn’t able to recover the ensuing onside kick, allowing the Packers to run out the clock on the 31-24 victory. 

Daniel is taking the the majority of the first-team reps in practice this week. He’s actually been seeing a heavier practice workload the past month, while Stafford has been dealing with a partially torn ligament on his throwing-hand thumb.

But even though Daniel will be prepared to start, he’s not fooling himself about Stafford’s drive to take the field this weekend. 

“I mean, knowing him, he tries to play,” Daniel said. “There’ no doubt about it, the dude is one of the toughest dudes I’ve ever been a part of and around — regardless of position. In my mind, like I said, I’m definitely preparing to play. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me, nothing would surprise me with Staff. The dude is tough as nails.” 

Stafford’s reputation for fighting through pain was built during a 136-game starting streak that was snapped last season due to a broken bone in the quarterback’s back. In regard to his current injury, interim coach Darrell Bevell said he’s going to lean on Stafford being honest about what he can and can’t handle when making a decision on his availability, similar to the way he pulled himself out at the end of the Packers game. 

“Obviously, he’s going to have to make sure he can handle whatever the level of pain that he’s in,” Bevell said. “That’s gonna be a big factor in it. Then, can he function with that pain level are really gonna be the two things.

“We have have great lines of communication,” Bevell said. “He’s not gonna do something he’s not able to do. There will be other things that are in there, but right now, I’m going to be trusting him.”

Stafford doesn’t plan on doing much physical activity in the coming days, and given the nature of the injury, rest, ice and heat are his limited rehab options. If he does play, he isn’t sure whether he’ll have to wear any additional protection, only joking that he would tape a pillow under his uniform. 

To add depth at the position, the Lions signed quarterback Jordan Ta’amu to the practice squad on Wednesday. An undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss a year ago, he was most recently a member of the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad. 

In addition to Stafford, the Lions were without several other players on Wednesday. Center Frank Ragnow, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby, cornerback Darryl Roberts, fullback Jason Cabinda and defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand were also sidelined. 

Golladay is already tracking toward missing his seventh consecutive game with a lingering hip injury suffered Nov. 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, and Bevell offered no clarity on the star receiver’s timeline. 

“I don’t have any update right now, in terms of anything different than what he’s been doing,” Bevell said. “He’s still continuing to rehab, trying to get himself back to play. He’s just not quite all the way there yet.”

Defensive tackle John Penisini (shoulder), running back Adrian Peterson (forearm) and safety Tracy Walker (shoulder) were limited.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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